April 20, 2022 | VICE

‘Sovereign Citizens,’ the conspiracists that believe they are above local laws

In this short documentary for VICE, ISD’s Ciarán O’Connor shares insight on the intersection between the long-standing anti-government ‘Sovereign Citizen’ ideology and COVID-19 conspiracy movements in the UK. Sovereign Citizens believe they are exempt to official law and justify sometimes illegal or violent activity through a series of conspiracy theories. In the documentary, many examples of dangerous applications of this ideology are used, one being the case of Joe McCarron, an Irish man that died of COVID-19 in 2021 when a fellow Sovereign Citizen came to “rescue” him from the hospital.

“Here is a direct link between someone motivated by Sovereign Citizen ideologies and the blending of anti-vaccine ideologies as well to kind of push someone towards making a decision that in the end was fatal towards them. So that really does show the danger of people being swayed by those with Sovereign Citizen beliefs as well,” Ciarán said.

Ciarán O’Connor is an Analyst at ISD, working in the Research and Policy unit. You can find a range of his work in our publications section.