Garrett Mullan discusses an Anti-Ukrainian statement published by Dublin Communities Against Racism.
Irish Left With Ukraine activists were shocked to see anti-Ukrainian content in a post published online by Dublin Communities Against Racism (DCAR). The post by DCAR was meant to be a left position in response to the Dublin riots following the stabbing outside a primary school in Dublin’s Parnell Square on November 23 2023.
Some anti racists commented on the post, but the contents were deleted, and the posters were blocked from the site. I was surprised myself to find that I could no longer view the post of the DCAR page on facebook, as I too have been blocked. However, at the time of writing, I could still view the post on Twitter (1) Dublin Communities Against Racism on X: “1/20 Government asylum policy continues to be a hopeless shambles! For some decades prior to 2022 eligible asylum seekers were absorbed into Irish society without any great hue and cry.” / X (twitter.com)
My own anti-racism activity goes back to 1992 campaigning in solidarity against the deportation of a Libyan asylum seeker from Dublin. This was at a time when Ireland had less than 50 applications for asylum each year. In 1994, I organised meetings with legendary anti apartheid activist Nimrod Sejake and a holocaust survivor at my further education college. I also travelled with other socialists and anti-racists to the 50,000 strong march against the British National Party (BNP) in October 1993 following the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Later, I founded Show Racism the Red Card (Show Racism the Red Card) and worked for 12 years on this project developing education and training resources to help tackle racism and contribute to integration.
I will not disown my own past. My anti-racism activities were linked with my socialist activities. Clare Daly was both my mentor in my younger years and I helped over nearly two decades to get her elected to Dáil Éireann. I have since travelled one way from the Socialist Party to Social Democrats, while she has travelled another.
It is not clear who is behind the administration of Dublin Communities Against Racism group, but my understanding it is people who self describe as being on the left of the political spectrum. I believe that a number of elected representatives are involved in the group. Given this fact, it is particularly necessary to challenge their post. It is one thing to post an article or position and to either stand over the position or reflect and retract.
The problem with the DCAR approach is they do not want to engage with criticism. By deleting posts, they show they do not have confidence in their own position. The problem with their deleting posts is that people, and in particular Ukrainians viewing the post, will think that no one is disagreeing.
The problem with the post is firstly it could have been written by griptmedia (an Irish far-right online outlet). It is divisive in setting refugees against each other – Ukrainians against others. It contains misleading information and furthermore veers into conspiracy mongering.
The reference to the poster campaign in the Kyiv metro (note the incorrect spelling on the DCAR statement), which was used as a bomb shelter, is a gross distortion. Tourism Ireland had a preplanned tourism advertising campaign in 2021 aimed at the Ukrainian market, appropriate enough given Ryanair had recently launched flights there. Perhaps DCAR wanted Tourism Ireland officials to travel through air raids and remove the posters?
The thread author alleges the Dublin government adopted its policies, not out of necessity in response to Russian invasion, but for the purpose of looking good with other governments at EU level. There are a number of other problematic aspects in this DCAR thread. Ukraine has 40 million people not 30 million. People fled war against Ukraine. They did not come because Ireland had the most generous benefits.
This thread is evidence of a lack of serious approach by many elements of the Irish left in responding to international affairs. They hark back to the language of yesteryear, while ignoring the reality of the present. They failed to show up at any demonstration in solidarity with Ukrainians or to protest outside the Embassy of Russia. Their inconsistent and incoherent view of the situation in Ireland, and internationally, has made them impotent and fundamentally irrelevant on this issue.
There are good social democratic or socialist and anti imperialist reasons to support Ukraine. To show solidarity with an oppressed group is the most fundamental quality to expect of anyone who self-describes as being on the left. Through solidarity, we build understanding and with that a programme can be developed which, if fought for can transform society to benefit the millions, not the millionaires and ending corruption.
The position taken by DCAR is not only wrong and mistaken from a left perspective – it is also a gift to the far-right.