Home Is Where the Heart Is
The theme of Dublin’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festival is “Home is where the heart is”. Sitting down to write an article about recent events in Lisdoonvarna that theme strikes a certain cord. At the heart of all rooted identity is this sense of returning home, this sense of belonging, this sense of origins. What the ancient Greeks called Nostos which is the root of the word nostalgia. It evokes the hero’s return from his voyage. The return to a familiar context. Such a notion seems to imply a pre-existing community, a pre-existing body of custom, a shared understanding of the world. It relies on the very things our own society is doing its best to stamp out. It relies on rootedness as a basis for meaning.
The choice of theme, in light of our present day situation, is ultimately paradoxical. To suggest that Ireland is a homeland, or as Michael Collins put it “a Mother Country” is now almost grounds for dismissal from polite society. The conventions of progressive post-national Ireland make the assertion unfashionable and unsupportable. Who would make a claim for an Irish homeland in a world without borders? Leo Varadkar’s Ireland is “an island at the centre of the world”, an Ireland that belongs to everybody and by logical implication nobody.
This has especial poignancy in the face of recent events in Lisdoonvarna. I visited the town last week and it was a sobering experience to speak to locals there. To speak to people whose sense of community was about to be fundamentally disrupted. In all the talk of resources and services, I heard no official voice in Ireland address the most salient issue. That a community has some right to decide whether or not its whole character is completely transformed. And that that right was being violated.
Of course there are more practical arguments. I simply do not believe and nobody can make me believe that an isolated town of some few hundred people can cope with the burden of 115 asylum seekers. There was I am told a previous feasibility study which found the locality insufficient to support more than a handful of refugees. But since I have not been able to find this study, I cannot verify it.
There are other questions that remain unanswered. How was local hotelier Marcus White able to secure the contract given he was previously fined “for employing non-nationals without having employment permits”? And what small town will be next? What isolated hotel in rural Ireland will be profitably converted into a Direct Provision centre?
It was curious how the media spun the story and how the overflow of asylum seekers became “Syrian refugees” which to my understanding they are not. It is also curious that the very people who usually condemn Direct Provision were so quiet in this instance. Or if they said anything at all it was to castigate the locals for being culchies and xenophobes.
But all of this is in a way secondary. The primary fact is the one that I mentioned at the beginning. The right of a community to be a community. The right to a sense of home and place and familiarity. These things have a value and that value has been completely ignored. Just like the vote of the townspeople has been completely ignored. I might mention that the delay of some seven days in the arrival of the asylum seekers was nothing to do with the people’s effort to have it stopped. It was merely on account of the bad weather. The people’s voice meant as little as that.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Anyone who exposes the duplicity of people like Marcus White or the Reception and Integration Agency, or who draws attention to the profiteering scam which is the asylum industry, is doing good work. Anybody who can offer legal or practical advice to the townspeople going forward will likely be of excellent assistance to them. Attempts need to be made to coordinate these efforts nationally and put similar communities in contact with one another. For there will soon be more cases like Lisdoonvarna.
Having said all that we are still faced with the problem of how to react most effectively to situations of this kind. And how to do so without alienating or even becoming detrimental to the efforts of the local community. In some cases locals will not want to be associated with nationalists or even with activists. And to be honest that is understandable. Firstly because the media will crucify them and secondly because the nationalist right in Ireland too often lacks coherence. It is a grab-bag of ideological tangents and contradictions and is far too influenced by foreign ideas and movements particularly from America. This conundrum is neatly summed up by the following incident.
On March 10th an article appeared in the Irish Times which featured an image of a “far-right” notice that had been taped to the door either of the Town Hall or of the King Thomond Hotel. The notice featured a mock EU logo and read: “Objection to the Great Replacement of Europeans will not be tolerated – Thank you for your compliance.” I gather that the notice was placed there on the 8th of March and though I was in the village that same day I am glad to say it was not I that put it there. The Irish Times article contains a disavowal of the notice by a local businessman and a claim that “Dublin-based agitators” were trying to “high-jack” the situation for their own ends. There are a few issues here that need to be addressed.
Naturally we can criticise the media for spinning the story. It is clearly an attempt to damage the locals by associating them with “far-right” groups and at the same time it drives a wedge neatly between the two forces. I suspect that locals will be far less receptive to outside assistance after this incident and the news attention it received. Beyond that one might question the wisdom of the notice itself which seems almost designed to alienate the local community. The “Great Replacement of Europeans” is far from the everyday concerns of the people of Lisdoonvarna. If it had only been a simple message about the locality or about Ireland it would have resonated much better.
The concerns of the local community with regard to the Direct Provision centre are straightforward and practical. They have stated their position quite clearly. They have emphasised the issue of resources, of broken promises and the moral objection to Direct Provision. These concerns are not ideological. They are practical. They are aware that the media is giving them a hard time, that they have had to pursue newspapers to amend false information and that the accusation of racism is being flung at them on social media. They understand that the politicians in Clare or anywhere else will do nothing for them on this issue. But they are also understandably wary of associating too closely with anti-immigration groups which are for the most part unknown quantities.
Having spoken to some locals, including the businessman quoted in the article, it was predictable that this kind of propaganda would lead to a public disavowal and that this would reflect questionably on others who tried to engage with the community. My first thought when seeing the photograph was “I hope they don’t think I did that. I hope they don’t think I betrayed their trust like that.”
The first concern of local people in these situations is that they not be exploited. They are being exploited, in my opinion, by the business interests of Marcus White. They are being exploited by the Reception and Integration Committee for whom they are merely a dumping ground. They are being exploited by the media who think of them as no more than backward yokels. But the accusation will also be made and has been made that they are being exploited by “far-right groups”.
What would we say of this accusation? The National Party has a strong, straightforward position on mass-immigration. It does not dress it up. In highlighting the predicament of Lisdoonvarna we do not assume that National Party views represent the views of that community. The community naturally will have a whole spectrum of views.
We accept the fact that in addressing or covering or speaking about the story that we carry a certain responsibility. It is not a given that everybody in that locality will be happy to be associated with us. But we also feel duty bound to do something. And we have not done enough. We have few enough resources to do what needs to be done. But at least we hope we have not made the situation worse.
The notice put up on the town hall door didn’t do the locals any favours. It made the situation worse. And it is puzzling why anyone would think that that particular message would resonate in small town Ireland. Arguably it undid a lot of good work that was surely being done by activists on the ground. The National Party had some presence in the town throughout last week but I am aware that there were others and some who dedicated a considerable amount of time to the issue. Some were indeed critical that the National Party was not seen to do more. Now all are thrown under the bus for the sake of a headline. If I were a member of the Lisdoonvarna community I would now be very reluctant to associate myself with outside groups.
Again and again, and it was same with Ballaghaderreen last year, nationalists have shot themselves in the foot by alienating the local people. They continue to adopt rhetoric and talking points which are unfamiliar and strange to people. What in God’s name is a local of Lisdoonvarna to think when they see that message on their town hall door? “Great Replacement of Europeans?” They are more concerned you may be sure about their essential services. A woman I spoke to in the town for instance told me about not being able to get services for her child. This was the first thing on her mind when faced with the prospect of 115 newcomers. Not the existence of Europe, which I am sure would have seemed a fairly abstract notion to her.
Keeping it Irish
Those of us who concern ourselves about issues regarding large scale immigration have a grave responsibility and also a great challenge. Let’s be frank about it, many people do not care and many more are afraid to care. As the ones who do care and who are prepared to say so openly, it is our responsibility to get it right. For if we get it wrong, it has long term repercussions.
It is a major stumbling block in and of itself that communities only militate upon these issues when they are directly affected. Case in point the people of Lisdoonvarna care about this issue because they are experiencing it directly. This is a problem because the only way to deal with these issues is to oppose them on a national level which means we need to energise people who are not yet affected directly.
How can we get it right? For a start, by not getting it wrong. By not buying into daft pre-packaged ideologies like Counter Jihad or pan-Europeanism or fad nationalism. And all things that are pie in the sky. Let us hold to the following dictum. What is rooted is real. What has roots in the soil will reach for the heavens. Families, communities, nations… Everything else is falsehood. We must reject the falsehoods and nurture the old truths. In short, keep it Irish. Keep it rooted. Keep it relevant. When one does that, one at least has a firm basis for an ethical worldview. When one loses that, one is lost entirely.
So out with the American clichés! Out with the supranational slogans! Out with the new-fangled rubbish and in with the age old tradition of nationhood. The English got exactly nowhere using silly terms like “Rights for Whites” because such terms are rooted nowhere. They grow in no soil. They blossom in no light. We defend what is defensible. That Ireland belongs to the Irish.
What we advocate is Irish nationalism, plain and simple. The plain simple belief that the land of our parents should be the land of our children. That Ireland be Irish. That our culture and our people endure. And that it be a light unto the world. That nobody should ever say that we threw a tribe away richer than all our pearls.
And it is on this basis that we must engage with people. Let it succeed or fail as that. Let it resonate or die as that. Let us not denigrate the idea. Instead go to people with what they know. When you do that you are on safe ground. The person who starts a conversation on immigration with a fifteen minute lecture on Islamic theology or Count Kalergi or, God help us, Swedish rape statistics has dug himself a hole from which he will not soon emerge.
What is happening in Lisdoonvarna is wrong. I hold it to be a sin. It would be a sin against any small community. And a sin against the very idea of community. The people doing it are doing it out of greed in some cases and out of perverted morality in other cases. It is a crime committed by people who have lost their sense of rootedness against people who still retain that sense of rootedness. It is in miniature what is happening to the whole country.
This article was submitted by a National Party member. If you would like to submit an article for publication on the National Party website, follow this link.