Far-right targeting Irish in Liverpool


Irish marches in Liverpool have been disrupted by the abuse and intimidation of far-right organisations, a report published yesterday (7 February) by the Irish group Cairde na hÉireann Liverpool (“Friends of Ireland”) has revealed.

edlThe report lists a series of incidents last year when the Irish cultural events were attacked by far-right groups, who view all Irish cultural commemorations as ‘IRA marches’.

In reality, one of the marches was in commemoration of the Liverpool Irish who fought with the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.

Another was in honour of Liverpool-born trade union legend ‘Big Jim’ Larkin, a man who successfully united both Catholic and Protestant workers in his bid to organise labour in both Britain and Ireland.

One march did indeed remember Liverpool-born Sean Phelan, who was an IRA volunteer during Ireland’s War of Independence (1919-21) against British rule.

However far-right objectors are perhaps unaware that no lesser a figure than the Queen laid a wreath in Ireland’s Garden of Remembrance during her state visit to Ireland last year, in memory of men exactly like Phelan, as a gesture of reconciliation.

We have become used to the protests in Belfast over the removal of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall, not to mention the ongoing sectarian tensions in parts of Scotland; but Northern Ireland’s political turmoil finds expression on English soil, too.

The report says that people on the above marches were subject to racial abuse and intimidation and that the local media in Liverpool has shown a marked reluctance to report the disputes.

As has Merseyside Police, who, the report says, should be ‘fully resourced to deal which such crime and recognise anti-Irish racism as a real issue’.

The report, Under Pressure: A Report Into Far-right And Loyalist Attacks Against Irish Community Parades/Marches in Liverpool During 2012also claims the problem of far-right intimidation has escalated over the past year.

In contrast, it says Irish community parades between 1996 and 2011 were ‘relatively trouble free’, signalling an improved confidence in the Irish community following ‘several decades of fear and restraint due the ongoing conflict in the north of Ireland’.

More broadly the report finds that the fragmentation of the far-right in North West England has seen groups develop a ‘street based approach’ to building support. This sees them ‘challenging anything perceived on their part to be anti-British’, such as trade union pickets and certain bookshops.

‘In Liverpool, this has shown itself by increased antagonism toward Irish community parades in the city in the absence of any significant Asian population that could be targeted,’ the report adds.

Liverpool’s history as a major centre of Irish immigration from the time of the Great Famine in the 1840s has seen the city develop a distinct Celtic character. By 1851, a fifth of the population of the city were born in Ireland, with the legendary T.P. O’Connor elected to represent the Liverpool Scotland constituency in the House of Commons for nearly 50 years as an Irish Nationalist.

Indeed, the 2011Census figures for Liverpool showed a marked increase in the city’s Irish population, making issues around cultural heritage increasingly important.

The far right’s characteristic ignorance of history, both Liverpool’s and Ireland’s, should not be allowed to spoil things.

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  • http://twitter.com/David_AC_Grant David Grant

    This is terrible, obviously – but I’m not happy with your lazy reference to Glasgow, which shows the same ignorance of history that you accuse the far right of. Glasgow had a higher rate of Irish immigration in the 19th century but had a better experience of integration. Unlike Liverpool, there were no ‘little Irelands’ in Glasgow in the period immediately following the potato famine immigration and today I challenge you to name one areas in Glasgow that could be described as such. I’m disappointed that you link your previous piece on sectarian violence in Glasgow because it is statistically incompetent. Let’s say one protestant and one catholic kick each other’s heads in after an Old Firm game and each of them complain to the police that they’re victims of sectarian assault. That one incident would show that Catholics are more likely to be on the receiving end of such violence given their respective weight in the Scottish population. Sectarianism in Scotland is a shadow of its former self and is in terminal decline, thank goodness. It would be nice if supposedly left-wing commentators had something positive to say about this and our city in general, rather than reaching for the stereotypes.

  • Kevin

    David – Nowhere in the piece do I mention Glasgow. I refer to ‘parts of Scotland’ where sectarianism is a problem. And it is, as evidenced by the report of the Scottish Govt from Nov 2011 which shows a 10 per cent rise in religious hate crimes in Scotland. Hardly ‘in terminal decline’ as you suggest.

  • Old Albion

    Funnily enough, when we here in England wish to hold a StGeorge’s day march, we get Lefty groups out on the street hurling abuse. Accusing us of being racists.
    The Left supports pride in all nations/creeds and cultures. Except English………………………..natch

  • Kevin

    Personally, I’m all for big St. George’s Day celebrations. Just wish those who talked about wanting them got on with organising them.

  • Newsbot9

    Let’s see evidence of your claim.

  • Newsbot9

    The right are on the rise across the UK again. You might not be aware of some recent attacks on the Jewish communities in Scotland, but they’re happening – and they’re coming from the far right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/radweld Anthony Hill

    Really? Fascists? do you even know what Far-Right means? or is it just the usual label you brand nationalists who just want to protect their country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobbybirch1994 Bobby Birch

    in all fairness i would say ‘lefties’ as you so speak disagree with nations and boarders anyway and along with that the false sense of ‘pride’ you have for the tiny bit of land your fell out of your mothers vagina on to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobbybirch1994 Bobby Birch

    Nationalism is far right, Nationalism or facism is any form of totalitarian movement that uses force to gain control. Nationalism is a joke

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.basterfield Dave Basterfield

    Especially scottish and irish nationalism eh?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.basterfield Dave Basterfield

    Protesting against the republicanism that has murdered British citizens is not ‘targeting irish’ as this erroneous article makes out!

  • Edward Carson

    There’s no antagonism towards the genuine Irish community, only to those who openly support and sympathise with Republican terrorist scum.

  • EGD Hammer

    Smash the IRA, this is not Irish culture, the Irish people & supporters in question wear berets & sunglasses like the 70s IRA, have banners & the names of IRA terrorists on their drums, at one event they read out a list of honor relating to dead IRA scum, the person reading it was a ex IRA member & current member of sinn fein, we will at every opportunity be there to stop terrorist supporters marching on the streets of Liverpool, NFSE – FGAU

  • Sun

    Wow.

    First of all, if you are going to claim everyone you don’t like is “Fascist” you should spell it correctly. “Facist” is not a word.

    Second, conflating Nationalism and Fascism as the same thing is so utterly ignorant. A similar analogy would be stating that Socialism and Communism are the same (although the two ideologies are much more similar than Nationalism and Fascism) which many conservatives do, needless to say it is stupid and ignorant. It is clear that you don’t know what you are talking about, and anyone you don’t like you just lump and use “far right” for fear.

    Third, and Left wingers don’t use force to gain control? The left hasn’t/doesn’t establish totalitarianism? You must be one of those who think that the Left is full “love and everything nice.” No, the only difference is the left wingers are better liars even when they’ve become completely illiberal in many ways to stay in power.

    As of right now the right is pretty marginalized (thanks to the [soft] totalitarian left) and what is there is a castrated version to give some illusion that there is a different choice which is too protect the left establishment. This is a left wing establishment not only in Ireland but throughout all of Europe.

    That is why right wing populism is on the rise and there is a cultural revolution happening. It means that mainstream people are fed up of your bullshit.

    No I don’t support looking like these goons with stupid mask and shaved heads (which isn’t Irish culture). But I do support preserving culture and a native (ethnic) people of these places.

    Keep calling everything Fascist, your days in power are numbered. It just shows your insecurity.

  • Ben

    I find this a very defensive response; I moved to glasgow from england in 2000 and lived there for 10 years. I was suprised by the amount of sectarianism there still is and how deeply it still permeates some levels of glaswegian life. Strange challenge to the statistics in the report as well – if they do indeed include a protestant and a catholic kicking each other’s heads in after an old firm game, then they still record worrying incidents of sectarianism.

  • Red by football and politics

    As someone who is a Merseyside trade Unionist and life-long Labour voter I take exception to being labelled right-wing and fascist. If the James Larkin Society stopped trying to hoodwink everyone with their alleged ‘Irish Community’ parades, then I’d wager you’d find no protest in opposition. Keep up your IRA parades and I’m happy to stand in protest. At least some trade unions have seen through your veneer!

  • Mick

    “….attacked by far-right groups, who view all Irish cultural commemorations as ‘IRA marches’.

    In reality, one of the marches was in commemoration of the Liverpool Irish who fought with the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.”

    So in reality, those commemorating fighting alongside communists have the same mindset as the IRA at times.

  • Newsbot9

    Ah yes, smash anything you disagree with. Make sure there’s lots more violence, your typical solution.

  • Edward Carson

    Are you 100% sure about that because nothing has been reported in the Jewish Chronicle in fact, Scottish Jews will proudly tell you that theirs is the only country in Europe where a Jew has never been murdered for being a Jew. No murders No attacks just left wing lies.

  • Edward Carson

    Are you referring to Liverpool born John Whelan, who for some reason gaelicised his name to Sean Phelan and became a lieutenant in the IRA, the same Sean Phelan who was killed taking part in a IRA attack on a train carrying British Army soldiers in which, because of an all-too-typical Republican fuck-up, IRA scouts never bothered to show, and the IRA killed 6 civilians, injured 10 civilians and wounded 6 soldiers, while the British Army killed 3 IRA and wounded 2 more, with the attack therefore being a “disaster” for the IRA (not to mention for the innocent people they murdered). Did you forget to mention this.

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, you keep claiming because you’ve failed to murder any Jews in recent history in Scotland makes you a saint.

    Keep on trying to say that this is the same no attack, and keep on accusing the left of your right wing’s vicious lies!

    I’m 100% sure you’re a liar from 10 seconds of googling…comes up up Mark Symington as a top result.

    But hey, details. you keep trying to whitewash your friends.

  • Edward Carson

    That looks like an individual case of domestic violence that goes back to 2011, it’s hardly an attack on the Jewish community

  • bristol red

    i agree with all your comments, i am a shop steward with unite / t&g and have been for 12 years, i am a member of the independent orange order in bristol, i have been at some of the protest whilst in liverpool, they are hiding behind the union cause to pro-moat hate !! simple as that. the vast majority who latch on to these groups have no love for peace or respecting others, only hate, i have been attacked by them my self, so i know what there all about listen to the music they play then check the words to the songs it is all pro i.r.a. who by the way sided with hitler and other war criminals. i am only glad that the good people in the irish community disown this scum, bristol red

  • http://www.facebook.com/darren.cowzer Darren Cowzer

    Celebrate being English, Don’t waste your time hating other people for celebrating their own heritage and national pride.

  • bristol red

    celebrating murder and opposing this in any culture is two very different things. i have no problem with some one being proud of there irish heritage but not glorifying murderers, who have killed many many irish r.c. for speaking out against them. and thousands more innocent people who never fitted in to there twisted world of hate and murder.

  • Newsbot9

    Blah blah “no attacks”. You were factually wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darren.cowzer Darren Cowzer

    Only one march involved any Republican motive (One march did indeed remember Liverpool-born Sean Phelan, who was an IRA volunteer during Ireland’s War of Independence (1919-21) against British rule.) – I think most good English men would fight for their independence in England if lets say the Nazis had been successful in Occupying and Ruling England – There are so many Great things about England and my opinion is that it is far better to promote these than to protest at other cultures and nationalities having gatherings to celebrate their culture etc.

  • bristol red

    darren, you have mist the point, i have no problem in any body remembering there home land/ culture, but i do those who glorify murder of innocent people for what ever reason. i speak as some one who was named after a young man (19) years old killed by nazis my dads brother, i hate every thing they stand for, and my back ground is very diverse, so dont hide be hind the little england bit, it wont wash, red jim.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darren.cowzer Darren Cowzer

    I’m with you on the Democratic way forward there Bristol, Ideally all armies would pull out of countries that they have invaded and we wouldn’t have bigger countries stealing oil and land from smaller countries, I would have no problem seeing people protest at an IRA or UVF march but it’s important to say it’s wrong to protest at ordinary gatherings celebrating cultures etc. whether they be Irish, Asian, Afro-Carribean whatever, that sort of protest is Racist / Xenophobic and those that carry out these protests are low lifes in my opinion.

  • bristol red

    i agree with you on the democratic way forward no body should be bombed in to a state they do not wish to belong to, and yes i agree that too many countries have stuck there noses in only for oil or land. but too many so called irish parades hide be hind that banner of irish when it is only to pro moat militant groups like the i.r.a. i.n.l.a. etc

  • http://www.facebook.com/darren.cowzer Darren Cowzer

    Most of these parades are actually just an excuse to socialise and have a few pints with other members of the Irish community in Britain, Parades glorifying groups like the Real IRA really have no place in modern society IMHO, Protests at these are spot on, it’s just important to note that the vast majority of Irish events in Britain are positive and no right thinking people should protest at these events, Peace red Jim !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270094290 Richard Wilson

    Fuck these cuntoxen….if I were there I’d cripple the fucks

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270094290 Richard Wilson

    come to Belfast Saxonhead

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270094290 Richard Wilson

    thats retarded….the IRA are nationalist…..who the fuck supported them in WW2?Thats right…and who did the British patriots support?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270094290 Richard Wilson

    fuck you, you pussy…..some dimwits need to be murdered….war is war. period. innocents die. get over it.tell us about Croke Park, Drogheda,, Dresden,

  • Andrew Campbell

    The ‘James Larkin’ march commemorates a great trade unionist who did much to further the cause of the working man/ woman – not just of Liverpool – but a far wider field. However, it does seem that it has been used by ‘other elements’ and that is why it does ‘rub up’ some sections of the working class community of Liverpool – in just the same way Orange Lodge parades do too to their working class counterparts. What we are now seeing is this whole concept being exploited by the middle class ‘anti-fascists’ for their own ends; to further divide the working class

  • Steve Bentley

    I look on this type of article with complete dismay. I like anyone with any connection to Liverpool has an Irish connection, my very very distant relatives arrived in Liverpool from Ireland a long time before the great hunger, my wifes heritage is Liverpool as a direct consequence of the hunger.
    What I find challenging is that elements in Liverpool are trying to use our heritage for their political ends, I do not wish to see republican marches in my city, and certainly dont wish to see the consequences the far right on our streets.
    Its in my opinion that its about time we laid the issues to rest, no doubt in the next couple of years we will get calls for some recognition of the easter rising, What did the independence of the Irish state achieve, not much from this travelers observations. Would suggest probably would have been better off staying part of the Union.

    The problems that the workers have faced, Irish English, Welsh or Scottish post 1850 in Liverpool, Manchester etc make the perceived injustice of past generations of no real value.

    Celebrate our culture, but keep the small minded bigots at bay, if they want to live in a republican eutopia let them go somewhere else, they are not wanted here.

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