There's a chasm between Ireland’s woke political class and voters

To say that the Irish government has misread the public mood in recent years would be an understatement. On a range of issues, from hate speech and woke ideology to housing, healthcare, and immigration, Ireland’s traditionally dominant political parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, have become increasingly disconnected from the everyday needs and concerns of their constituents.

They thought they could dismiss hundreds of protests across the country against immigration policies as the handiwork of right-wing extremists, until opinion polls revealed that a substantial majority of the population considers we are taking in too many refugees, and can relate to local concerns over refugee accommodation centres.

A case in point is a recent RedC poll from January 2024 showing that 66 percent of respondents in a national sample believe Ireland is taking in too many refugees. Another example is an Irish Times/IPSOS B&A poll from February in which 69 percent of respondents said that they would have “some concerns” if a building in their local area was given over to accommodate asylum seekers.


Ireland’s ruling political class thought public sentiment was on their side when they sought to introduce radical hate speech legislation (the Hate Offences Bill that is now before the Senate), but the overwhelming majority (73 percent) of submissions during their public consultation on the matter were opposed to the proposed legislation.

They thought they could handily chalk off another “progressive” victory by introducing a more “inclusive” definition of family and carers in the home, but were taken completely off guard when both referenda faced overwhelming defeat in almost every constituency in the country.

The referendum outcomes unveiled a gaping chasm between Ireland’s woke political class and voters. The attempt to redefine the legal family met with a resounding 67 percent “No.” The attempt to replace mothers with a more gender-neutral term, “carers”, met with an even more decisive 74 percent “No.”

Political analysts should be wondering how it is possible that three in four Irish voters could reject a referendum that was officially endorsed by every party sitting in Dáil Eireann, barring two tiny parties (Aontú and Independent Ireland) that make up no more than four deputies in total in a parliament of 160.

If you add to these four deputies the handful of independents who opposed the referenda, the result is stark: 67-75 percent of Irish citizens who voted “No” were represented in the referendum debate by less than 10 percent of Ireland’s parliament, and no major political party.

In retrospect, this referendum outcome only served to corroborate the steady drift of Ireland’s political class away from its voter base. Ireland’s political class has lost their focus on bread-and-butter issues that affect ordinary citizens. They seem more interested in playing to the Woke gallery on issues like hate speech and “gender inclusion” and winning brownie points with the European Commission than tackling basic issues that actually affect people’s day-to-day lives, like housing, healthcare, crime and delinquency, and the immigration crisis.

Abandon ship

The recent resignation of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar might be interpreted as the desperate act of a man who senses that he and his party are in trouble. Given that 30 percent of Irish voters say they would be “more likely” to vote for a candidate that expressed concerns over immigration, and given that not a single major Irish party represented the views of 67-74 percent of Irish voters in our recent referenda, there is clearly a political vacuum in Ireland, which could be filled by new parties and candidates who speak for disenfranchised voters.

With a general election due within a year, all of this spells trouble for Ireland’s ruling class. Those who are sitting at the top of Ireland’s political pecking order, no matter how politically tone-deaf they have been in the past, must by now feel the ground moving under them.


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It is probably too soon to say for sure whether we are on the cusp of a substantial re-alignment of party politics in Ireland. Party politics is fiercely competitive, and Irish voters have been historically slow to shift their allegiances to new and upcoming parties. Nevertheless, the level of disillusionment with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, whose leadership has manifestly lost touch with their voter base, is deep enough that some sort of re-alignment seems entirely plausible.

Lacklustre opposition

If Sinn Fein, in spite of declining support in opinion polls, manages to cash in on voter discontent and leverage its position as an opposition party with plausible alternatives to Ireland’s failing policies in housing, healthcare and immigration, it could potentially become Ireland’s largest political party, and cobble together a coalition with Fine Gael or Fiann Fail to form the next government.

But up to now, Sinn Fein has done little to distinguish itself while in opposition: to begin with, it has waffled around the immigration issue, which preoccupies a solid contingent of voters. Mary Lou MacDonald, the party’s leader, “would not say” in February of this year “if her party would be stricter on immigration or if the number of deportations would increase under a Sinn Féin government.”

Sinn Fein has ticked the box on all the woke and “progressive” issues, and joined the government in siding against 67 percent and 74 percent of the country that voted “No” in the referendums. In short, it has not done a good job showing voters it stands for something very different to FG, FF and the Greens.

If voters defect in large numbers to independents and small parties like Aontú and Independent Ireland, then people who dissent from woke orthodoxy and open-door immigration policies might actually have a chance of helping to form the next government. If that happened, it would represent a rather dramatic change in Ireland’s political landscape. The question is, will dissenting candidates be successful in mobilising disillusioned voters and marketing themselves as offering a viable alternative to the status quo?

Nothing is guaranteed. But given the level of discontent that has been brewing in recent years against Ireland’s governing class, and given the rash of political upsets across European nations in recent elections, a significant political re-alignment cannot be ruled out.

This article has been republished with permission from The Freedom Blog.

David Thunder is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Navarra’s Institute for Culture and Society in Pamplona, Spain.

Image: Pexels


Showing 3 reactions

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  • mrscracker
    Thank you so much for this article. I think there’s a tide about to change in Ireland & elsewhere. What the tide brings in remains to be seen but we should have hope.
  • David Page
    commented 2024-03-27 10:03:55 +1100
    Two thirds of Ireland supports gay marriage. About the same want access to abortion. 80 percent want a total separation of church and state. So you hang your anti woke bonnet on immigration? Does that really make any sense? Immigration is a sticky question in any society that values its cultural heritage. And for a country where the economy is sometimes shaky, it is hard to justify massive immigration. So I don’t think there is any appetite in Ireland to return to the days of clerical dominance. When the Church had power they abused it. If they were to regain power they would abuse it again.
  • David Thunder
    published this page in The Latest 2024-03-26 20:37:48 +1100