Undertones, Anti-Fascism And The Far-Right In Ireland 1945-2012
If one were to believe conventional histories and the media, we would be forgiven for thinking that Fascism in Ireland ended with O’Duffy’s Blueshirts with a few recent flare-ups like the self-styled ‘Celtic Wolves’ who were disrupted in their camping endeavours by a few country Gardai. Bernardo O’Reilly’s Undertones makes a nonsense of that myth and does an excellent job of informing us of the plethora of homegrown Fascist and racist groups that have reared their ugly heads in Ireland since the end of the Second World War to the present (and thankfully have almost unanimously had those ugly heads kicked in by anti-fascists!)
O’Brien, a member of Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) Ireland and other contributors have done considerable research into Ireland’s murky fascist underground, many of which have used the cloak of Irish Nationalism to conceal their true fascist and racist ideology. They correctly describe how Ireland was seen as a safe haven for many wanted SS officers in the post war flux, many of their escapes facilitated by the Catholic Church and on at least one occasion by the Quakers! Mosley, of the British Union of Fascists sought refuge in Ireland during the post-war era, buying several grand properties, some of which had an ‘unfortunate’ susceptibility to fire damage:
“Understandably , his presence in Ireland did not please everyone and in December 1953, IRA members , in an unsanctioned operation , burnt down his house in Count Galway. Mosley lost his papers, many BUF and UM internal documents and three family portraits in the fire that left Clonfert Palace as an uninhabitable shell….Up to now, the fire was described in Mosley’s biographies, as an accident“
Undertones does an admirable job in chronicling the numerous Fascist groups in Ireland since 1945, some were overtly neo-Nazi such as the National Movement while others using the cloak of ‘anti-abortionists’ and Irish culture, were more insidious. Thankfully, none of these far right groups ever gained the foothold of respectability, although this can be explained by the 26 county parties playing their own ‘race card’ when it was politically expedient to do so. There is also the argument that bears some validity that the disaffected working class youth of Ireland, who in other countries would be targeted by Fascists groups are much more likely to be become involved in the various Republican groups and movements who traditionally would be militantly opposed to the far right.
It is heart warming to hear of the many more contemporary confrontations with these neo-Nazi cabals, where invariably the extreme right wing groups, often modelling themselves as Teutonic warrior types, quickly turned into instant pacifists when coming face to face against experienced AFA stewards. Undertones makes the highly valid point that only anti-fascists with strong ties to working class communities can effectively counter Fascism/Racism when it attempts to flex it’s so far usually puny muscles.
The fact that there has never been a mass fascist movement in Ireland since the days of the Blueshirts, is not an excuse for complacency, especially in the current economic climate and anti-immigrant diatribe being encouraged in the media. The following quotes from Germany’s Nazi leaders should be taken as a watchword by anti-Fascists everywhere:
“Only one thing could have broken our movement – if our enemies had understood its principle and from the first day had smashed the nucleus of our movement with extreme brutality.”
(Adolf Hitler, 1933)
“If the enemy had known how weak we were, it would probably have reduced us to jelly. It would have crushed in blood the very beginning of our work.”
(J Goebbels, 1934)
Undertones: Anti-Fascism and The Far-Right In Ireland 1945-2012 is available at a price of 6 Euros and makes invaluable reading for those concerned with the history of Fascism in Ireland and it’s present day manifestations. More importantly, it gives the reader sound examples of how these Nazi deviants are best dealt with.
Links: Anti-Fascist Ireland Website