Rise of far-right in Ireland? How anti-immigration candidates fared in local council polls

A number of candidates who spoke vociferously against immigration in the lead-up to June 7th local council polls in Ireland have emerged victorious, though they represent a relatively small percentage in comparison to overall results.

According to the Irish Times/Ipsos B&A Snapshot poll, immigration and housing were among the key issues getting voters’ attention in the run-up to the polls.

Far-right candidates Malachy Steenson and Gavin Pepper, who contested as independents, won from Dublin’s North Inner City and Ballymun-Finglas ward, respectively.

Both councillors have featured prominently in protests linked to the accomodation of people seeking international protection. Both have also spoken at anti-immigration marches that had taken place in Dublin city in recent months and propenents of “Ireland is Full” slogan.

In the South Dublin County Council, Glen Moore, a regular attendee at anti-immigration marches, won a seat from Palmerstown-Fontill area for Irish Freedom Party. He is known for his controversial online posts against Islam.

National Party’s Patrick Quinlan, who has called for mass deportations and often used terms such as “plantations” when referring to migration, has won a seat in the Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart ward of Fingal County Council.

While these wins of far-right candidates constitute a relatively small percent, the established parties will be closely observing the outcome and trends with a general election due by March 2025.

The ruling coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have dominated the polls, along with Independent candidates, with results of 85% of local seats having been declared. The outcome also dealt a potential blow to Sinn Fien’s hopes of securing its first victory in the forthcoming national election as the left-wing party had hit 35% in opinion polls as recently as October.

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