The Dublin Riots, #IrelandBelongsToTheIrish, and Hypocrisy…

Katy Haskins is a PhD Researcher from County Down. She is interested in Irish identity, politics, and experiences of life. You can find her on LinkedIn or X (@katyrhaskins).

Today, like every other day, I navigated the windy streets of Belfast – Nutri-Grain bar in hand – to get to my desk. Today, however, was not like every other day. Instead of spending my walk thinking about what I might have for dinner, or if I definitely locked the front door, or if I definitely sent that email I was supposed to send, I was caught up thinking about the disgraceful scenes in Dublin last night. While I’m lucky enough to have (mostly) seen burnt-out buses and police in riot gear only as pictures in history books, I was caught off-guard seeing them as headline news today – particularly due to the reasoning. As a PhD researcher investigating Irish nationalism, it felt disingenuous to open any books without first addressing what went on last night. If for nothing else but to straighten out my own thoughts on the situation.

Of course, what happened in Parnell Square East – the attack on three children and a woman – was reprehensible. But just as most of us (I hope) would argue that the events of last night do not speak for all Irish folk, the events of yesterday afternoon do not speak for all immigrants. That would be a logical, foregone conclusion – at least to me.

That’s not what you’d find if you checked “#IrelandBelongsToTheIrish” – a hashtag that was already tending on X, formerly Twitter, yesterday morning – before any of this took place. While one contributor assessed that the migrant situation is “[j]ust like the story of a patron Saint driving snakes off the island… this MUST happen again. DEPORT.”[1], while another said, “[t]he seeds are being sown for a revival of the IRA. Well done government. Well done the far left. Well done the refugees [sic] welcome crew. This is all on you.”[2]. Upon scrolling the hashtag this morning, as well as other seedy corners of the social network, the ante has well and truly been upped.

Furthermore, endlessly trustworthy and respected political commentator Conor McGregor has weighed in on the migration issue on several occasions over the last week, ramping up his advocacy in the last 24 hours or so. He’s very concerned about the “safety” of Ireland, particularly with regard to women and children[3]. It’s a good thing we have such a peace-loving and non-violent man in our corner – I must ask him about it next time I find myself aboard a yacht with him.

I can tell you right now – as a woman, who was a child a little over five-years ago – immigrants do not make me feel unsafe. Do you want to know what does? Far-right propaganda. Torching city streets. Violent men. And last night demonstrated, as if we didn’t already know, that they are things the Irish are capable of. Bad people can come from anywhere. So do not use women and children as pawns when justifying your hate-speech and violent actions. If you cared about us, you wouldn’t be out setting Dublin on fire – you’d be voting for people who will fight for our equality. And you certainly wouldn’t use an attack of this nature as an excuse to go out and raise hell – you’d be hosting a vigil.

Hypocritically, the very same nation finds itself up in arms over “no Irish need apply” and “no Irish, no Blacks, no Dogs” rhetoric from 60 years ago; when we found ourselves at the receiving end of the same vitriol we’re currently dishing out. Similarly, it is approximated that 1.47 million Irish citizens find themselves living outside of Ireland (according to statistics from the Department of Foreign Affairs from 2017)[4]. It’s alright when we do it, eh? Every major city in this world has an Irish pub. Everybody knows somebody who’s off on their gap year to find themselves. Everybody has a cousin who ran away to Australia. Even the far-right ‘activists’ who were rioting last night. We are a nation of people with emigration in our DNA. We are a nation of people who should be understanding of the plight of people leaving their homeland.

I’m proud to be Irish – hell, as a Northern lass I chose to be – but such events as last night are mortifying to be associated with. I am proud of my homeland, and I’m proud that many people like the idea of making it their home, too. At a time in world history in which so many people’s homelands are in peril – look at Gaza, or Ukraine, or the Congo – we should be committed to peace and inclusion in our own.

‘Th’ whole worl’s in a terrible state o’ chassis’ – let’s not add to it.


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