US technology billionaire Elon Musk has lashed out at Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar amid what many see as his Government’s plans to crack down on freedoms in the country.
Irish authorities have vowed to tighten mass surveillance in the wake of rioting in Dublin on November 23, which itself was in retaliation to a stabbing of three children.
Blaming the country’s nebulous “far-right” for the violence, Varadkar insisted Ireland needed the Government’s proposed hate-speech laws now more than ever.
Ironically, the Irish PM hates the Irish people
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2023
The bill has previously been condemned internationally, with many fearing the legislation would effectively render the possession of offensive memes illegal, among other things.
Varadkar added the laws would enable the state to “go after” the “far-right” at a personal level.
“They’re to blame and we’re going to get them,” he said.
The statement provoked outrage online. Among critics, Musk waded in to condemn Varadkar as acting against the interests of his own citizens.
“Ironically, the Irish PM hates the Irish people,” he wrote on X, stating in another tweet that: “The people of Ireland should not stand for this!”
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) November 27, 2023
Apparent free-speech clampdowns are not the only way the Irish Government is looking to target its critics. Authorities have also promised a significant expansion of Irish State surveillance. The Government wants to legalise AI-powered facial recognition technology to catch those responsible for such violence.
Helen McEntee, the country’s embattled justice minister, has vowed to “bring forward” legalising the technology in the hope of cracking down on the “thugs and criminals” involved in last week’s riots.
Opposition politicians have been critical of the move. Senior Labour Party politician Aodhán Ó Ríordáin described the bill as a way of distracting attention from what he said were the Government’s repeated failures.
Officials have also taken to targeting high-profile figures they feel have influenced public opinion. Among them was popular UFC fighter Conor McGregor, who came under fire for his repeated attacks on Irish migration policy.
The sportsman and entrepreneur has rallied criticism of the Government in recent days, attacking it for failing to prevent the stabbing of the children.
“Ireland, we are at war,” he wrote on his social media account.
McGregor also hinted at the possibility of becoming involved in Irish politics himself, stating that if officials failed to present a plan to deal with what he called “migrant crime”, he would step in.
According to a report in The Times, the fighter is now being investigated by Irish police for alleged “hate speech”.
The end could be nigh for Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee's political career with politicians from across the country’s political spectrum calling for her resignation over Thursday's child stabbings in Dublin. https://t.co/5l6lM3WjMD
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) November 24, 2023