Gardaí investigate links between criminals and far-right groups – The Irish Times

Gardaí are increasingly concerned about the involvement of violent criminals in anti-immigration protests.

Units tasked with monitoring extremist groups have led Garda management to fear that people convicted of serious crimes are associating with local groups opposed to the accommodation of asylum seekers in their area.

Some of these figures have been arrested for serious crimes in the past and, in some cases, are believed to have access to firearms, sources said.

According to two security sources, there is particular concern that electoral candidates and people working to provide services to asylum seekers will be subject to serious attack ahead of the local and European elections on 7 June.

This is supported by evidence gathered by specialist gardaí, they said.

The level of violent rhetoric online has also increased markedly in the past three months, with some far-right accounts now blatantly calling for acts of violence against elected officials and asylum seekers.

A number of people arrested in recent months in relation to public order incidents involving the accommodation of asylum seekers have criminal records, including arrests for assault, drug trafficking, weapons possession, domestic violence and witness intimidation.

In response, Gardaí have increased physical and online surveillance of a handful of suspected right-wing extremists. The Garda Public Order Unit has also received new equipment, training and additional staff to prepare for serious disturbances around asylum seeker accommodation.

In the most recent incident, on Tuesday night, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a building in Tallaght, Dublin, which had been earmarked for families seeking asylum. CCTV footage showed a man fleeing the building as it caught fire.

The fire was extinguished and the damage caused was minimal. Gardaí put the building under surveillance.

Angry protests took place outside the premises later that day, with some protesters threatening gardaí protecting the building, in one case threatening to set fire to a female garda.

Online, the rhetoric has “reached another level,” a security source said. A public chat forum controlled by a prominent far-right activist debated this week about how best to attack state institutions, with one participant suggesting an attack similar to the mass shooting carried out by Anders Breivik in Norway in 2011. .

Another spoke of the use of chemical weapons and the employment of heavy vehicles as “tanks.” In recent months there have been multiple posts on similar forums threatening to kill or seriously harm elected officials.

While no election candidates have been seriously injured, a number of incidents of candidates being threatened or intimidated have been reported to gardaí.

Gardaí are particularly concerned about the possibility of violent or unstable people being incited by the increasing level of false information spread online about asylum seekers. Allegations that asylum seekers and other non-Irish groups have been involved in serious crime have proliferated in recent months.

These are generally reports of immigrants threatening women or children, usually without any type of evidence.

A Garda spokesperson said the force “has not recorded any significant increase in criminal activity or public order issues directly caused by International Protection Applicants at any location where International Protection Applicants are accommodated, in this moment”.

He said that “on the contrary”, any increase in demand on Garda resources is driven by “criminal activity” associated with people objecting to the accommodation of asylum seekers. These include public order violations, arson and “the harassment and intimidation of other citizens doing their daily legal work,” she said.