By Stephen McKinley
Irish anti-immigration groups have been using the Internet to make immigration issues an election issue in Ireland.
Three Irish anti-immigration groups have surfaced in recent years, corresponding to the sudden surge of asylum seekers and refugees in the 1990s, as well as an increase in skilled workers.
So far, immigration has not become a major electoral issue for any of the main political parties.
In the early 1990s, Central Statistics Office records showed only a handful of non-Irish immigrants into Ireland annually, but by 1996, this had increased to 4,200 annually.
Ireland has struggled to keep up with the increase, its new immigration service often overwhelmed and heavily criticized for delays and errors.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
For some pressure groups such as the Immigration Control Platform, such measures are wrong-headed. What is needed, they say, is a ban on immigration.
The Immigration Control Platform has offered anti-immigration critiques of government policy, whereas other groups have posted openly racist websites.
The New Ireland Forum, believed to be based in the U.S., introduces itself on the Internet by demanding that Ireland be kept racially pure.
“We feel the best way to keep Ireland ‘white and Irish’ is to gain access to key public and commercial figures through whatever means possible,” it said.
Among its objectives, the New Ireland Forum calls for “a white only Ireland with a tiny minority of migrants to hold up the more difficult foundations of our economy [retail security, cleaning, agriculture].”
Also fresh on the political scene is the Irish People’s Party, whose website makes a series of unsubstantiated claims about asylum seekers and immigrants to Ireland.
It claims that 97 percent of the women arrive pregnant, because having a baby born here assures them of a passport for themselves and all their family, which usually numbers between 20 to 30 people.”
It adds that large sums of public money are given to asylum seekers on their arrival in Ireland, for legal costs as well as for cell phones and “money for socializing.”
In fact, government statistics show that of the small number of asylum seekers who qualify for welfare, they are only entitled to the basic amount afforded to Irish citizens per week, of euro 118.80 per week, and euro 16.80 per child. Most refugees are not allowed to work while their claim to asylum is being processed.
In further claims, the Irish People’s Party also said that immigrants from Africa have brought leprosy into Ireland, have introduced teenage sex to Ireland, and are responsible for a massive increase in crime.
The New Ireland Forum’s claims are less extreme, simply stating that “we have been witnessing a steady influx of Romanians, Nigerians and other money hungry migrants which endanger our economic and cultural stability.”
It adds that it aims to counter “the leftist liberal agenda held by parties such as the Green Party, Sinn Fein, the Socialists and any other Red within political life.”
Most extreme is a website run by a group calling itself NSRUS, which, one journalist claimed, stood for “National Socialists are us.”
The organization’s website claims, “[the] race which best aligns itself with the will of Nature is the race that inherits the earth.” It adds: “The Aryan race has a decisive edge in this cosmic competition; its members have repeatedly demonstrated a remarkable ability to discern Nature’s laws. Our Asian competitors are merely imitative rather than creative, Africans are oriented toward superstition.”
“NSRUS stands for the right of Irish people to live in a clean, safe, secure society.”
Last week, Minister for Justice John O’Donoghue authorized the assignment of 200 Garda recruits to the 2-year-old Garda National Immigration Unit, which currently has a staff of 121.
The new recruits will be used to check border roads, entry points and generally increase vigilance across the state.
O’Donoghue said that increased vigilance is necessary at a time when other EU countries are applying stricter immigration controls.