January 14, 2023 | The Irish Times

Polarising language and nativism narratives is shaping the discussing around asylum seekers in Ireland

ISD researchers Ciarán O’Connor and Aoife Gallagher wrote an op-ed for The Irish Times focussing on asylum-seeker protests in Ireland, and how language and grievances are being weaponised against immigrants.

“This type of nativism – the idea that non-native members of a population pose a threat – has long plagued migrant populations across the world. Irish emigrants were once the target. Today, there are protests against the increased numbers of asylum seekers seeking refuge in Ireland, a country that was largely ethnically homogeneous until the 2000s,” they write.

In the article, they outline how nativism has shaped the discussion around immigrants into more extreme magnitudes. Phrases like ‘military-aged men’ and ‘unvetted’ are frequently used to conjure up the idea of an ‘invading force’ that will “overwhelm an area and replace its locals, a clear reference to the far-right ‘Great Replacement‘ conspiracy theory.'”

“Invoking such rhetoric creates a pre-text for intimidation, hate or even violence against asylum seekers, while stripping away the realities of why they are fleeing their homelands in the first place.”

“Online movements that did not have much overlap before the pandemic have now coalesced, bound by their embrace of a conspiratorial worldview. Today, the groups and communities online that were formed during the pandemic to oppose lockdowns, masks and vaccines are a melting pot of wild alternative theories for everything from the invasion of Ukraine, to climate change, to immigration.”

The full article is available on The Irish Times.