Published: 15 December 2021
Author: Aoife Gallagher
In the years leading up to 2020, Ireland had a number of small, but often loud, fringe groups that pushed a range of ideologies and beliefs, from ethnonationalist groups, to QAnon and 5G conspiracy theorists, and New Age health movements. Although some overlap existed within these movements, especially with the far-right, their narratives rarely made it outside of their online echo chamber.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic many of their narratives have become well-known in the mainstream, propagated through Facebook groups and Telegram channels with thousands of members, and peddled by individuals who had minimal influence before the pandemic but have since become internationally famous. The overlaps between these narratives and right-wing extremism have not disappeared, and the far-right have used the pandemic to spread their own hateful ideologies.
This report investigates the overlaps between anti-lockdown movements, conspiracy theorists and extremists, exploring the key individuals and groups involved, and illustrating the harmful activity that can be traced back to the proliferation of conspiracy theories in online spaces.
This paper is part of a wider series of briefings, deconstructing the transnational activism across a range of countries including Canada, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands. We explore the long-term threat the movement poses and discuss the appropriate policy responses.