Leftist activists in Ireland have been exposed through a three-month-long honeypot investigation by conservative students. In December 2019, Irish Students Against Fascism (ISAF) set up a Twitter account, describing ISAF as an “aspiring antifascist organising hub to physically, socially and professionally harass individuals engaged with conservative or nationalist politics on campuses.” What prominent leftist campus activists, journalists, and politicians didn’t realize at the time was that the page was being run by students involved in The Burkean, an online conservative publication.
After months of careful investigative work, and with leftists all over Ireland eagerly awaiting the exposure of Irish “fascists,” the students instead released screenshots and recorded conversations between themselves and several members of the Irish Left which unveiled a deeply-rooted institutional bias against conservatives. In America, this bias is visible thanks to organizations like YAF whose staff and students highlight and fight it. In Ireland, the bias against anyone who has right-leaning sympathies is more subtle. Hidden below the surface, Ireland is dominated by a large number of well-funded and powerful NGOs and Unions that effectively set the narrative and dominate traditional spaces of discourse like college campuses, public rallies, and government lobbying.
What the “Irish Antifa Project” found is not just a few random leftists attempting to impede conservative ideas. In fact, it has exposed the entire leadership of Ireland’s largest student organization—the Union of Students in Ireland—along with prominent members of left-wing political parties and several high-profile elected politicians including the daughter of the Irish President, Senator Alice Marie Higgins. One elected Irish Senator, Collette Kelleher told undercover conservatives running the ISAF account that she thought they “do great work,” despite the page making clear its intentions were to dox and destroy the lives of “fascists,” using violence if necessary.
The most damaging revelation so far for leftists in Ireland is related to the ‘Union of Students in Ireland’ (USI) which claims to represent more than 374,000 students. In a recording obtained by ISAF, Deputy President/Vice President of Campaigns Michelle Byrne promised to send the reporter the names and details of students who the USI decide hold problematic views. This came after the reporter for the Burkean had said he would pass on the names to people who would “slap them around.”
The President of the USI, Lorna Fitzpatrick, has also been implicated in egregious activities. In a newly-released recording, she agrees with the activities of Irish Antifa in a personal capacity, saying that she would “have no problem with helping” and agreed that she would pass on any names that she might “come across on a public platform.” The President of the USI’s Northern Ireland branch is also featured in the latest recording in which he tells the reporter “I have absolutely no problem with direct action.” “Once I’m finished in NUS-USI I’m very happy to do more direct-action stuff.” Direct action was repeatedly implied as violent action by the reporter.
While leftists in both Ireland and the United States often label conservatives as “fascists,” these recordings show again it is the Left that schemes to engage in violence to suppress opinions they deem unacceptable, a characteristic akin to the 1930s fascism of German brownshirts. The indictment of the Left’s shameful attempts to silence dissenting ideas will continue in the coming weeks with several more articles and recordings set to be released. Ciaran Brennan—a student involved in the undercover project—told The New Guard “the intent of this project is to examine the clear overlap between civic society groups and anti-fascism in Ireland. Over the course of our investigation, we have uncovered clear systemic abuses of power. From Ireland’s largest student unions happy to harass students, bug meetings of conservatives and pass personal details to our reporter, the symbiotic relationship between anti-fascism and left-leaning officials is real. They are happy to endanger students, but we are dedicated to exposing and gradually dismantling these networks.”
Bryan O’Shea is the co-founder and president of Free Speech Ireland.