Garda police officers in riot gear line up on O'Connell Street after violence broke out following a knife attack earlier in the day in which five people were injured, including three young children, in Dublin, Ireland, 23 November 2023. EPA-EFE/MOSTAFA DARWISH


Ireland’s ‘cosy cartel of media and government is cracking’, says rebel MP


Ireland’s “cosy cartel of media and Government” is “cracking” amid a backlash over its support for mass immigration, a rebel TD – Member of Parliament – has said.

Mattie McGrath, of the Irish Parliament’s Rural Independent Group, said the establishment had for years “suppressed” voices critical of governmental “reckless immigration policy” but now “cracks have started to appear”.

It comes as Ireland has, in recent months, been rocked by mostly peaceful protests against the government’s asylum policy but also a number of arson attacks and episodes of violent unrest.

McGrath said he has been calling for a debate in the Dáil Éireann, one of the Parliament’s two chambers, on the “massive influx” since January 2023.

The motion was finally heard in December – following spontaneous demonstrations in towns across rural Ireland, including in the counties of Tipperary, Wexford and Mayo, among others.

“Imagine having the first debate on [immigration] now – we’ve been asking for a debate for 12 months,” McGrath told Brussels Signal.

“This has been debated in every kitchen, every school, every workplace and they just suppressed it. It’s very serious for democracy.”

Ireland has taken in more than 26,000 asylum seekers over the past two years, a near 200 per cent increase from 2019, the last year before Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The influx came as the country was already grappling with a shortfall of 250,000 homes and with health, education and policing services also under heavy strain.

McGrath said that, instead of addressing people’s “legitimate” concerns about the new arrivals – who were “disproportionately” single men, “the easiest thing [for the media and Government] to do was to label the Irish people as ‘racist’”.

“And we have a willing media in Ireland, who are 99 per cent supportive [of the Government’s immigration policy],” he added.

“There’s a lovely, cosy cartel of media and Government spokespersons – and it’s now cracking, cracks have started to appear.”

The Irish Government on January 30 announced a partial clampdown on immigration, saying it would charter flights to deport asylum seekers who “fail to meet the criteria to remain in the country”.

Justice minister Helen McEntee also pledged to remove Algeria and Botswana from the list of countries designated as “unsafe” in an effort to curb the number of asylum applicants.

Ireland is currently accommodating 3,110 people from Algeria and 709 from Botswana, according to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

The about-turn has been accompanied by “massive infighting in the Government” over the mounting crisis, according to McGrath.

He said the Government appeared to be attempting to pin the blame for that solely on two ministers – housing minister Darragh O’Brien and Roderic O’Gorman, the integration minister.

McGrath added: “Government ministers are coming into the Dáil with scripts and contradicting each other in their speeches.”

At the time of writing, the Irish justice department had declined to comment.