Anti-Fascist Action: Combatting Fascism in Ireland
The activities and politics of Anti – Fascist Action (AFA) Ireland are as relevant now as they were 18 years ago when the organisation was founded, writes Bernard O’Reilly.
AFA is dedicated to confronting fascism, both physically and politically, in whatever guise it might take. From the self-styled street fighter boneheads of the Celtic Wolves, to the ultra catholic, anti-immigrant Irish nationalists based around the now defunct Hibernian magazine, to the parliamentary racist failures of the Immigration Control Platform to the ‘one man and his dog’ autonomous nationalist, graphic design enthusiasts of Folk Advance – AFA will counter the activities of these or any similar groups using a variety of tactics.
As expected, the group’s work is diverse. Small-scale activities involve the removing of racist graffiti and stickers, leafleting an area where there has been a case of fascist activity and organising benefit gigs. More substantial projects include getting involved in football related anti-racist initiatives, writing and producing a magazine called No Quarter and mobilising large numbers to physically confront neo-Nazis when the time calls.
A wide range of people from various political backgrounds support AFA. Anarchists, socialists, republicans and anti-racist punks, skinheads and football fans are all involved. It is open to all individuals who support the group’s aims and methods.
Thankfully Ireland’s far right groups are small, inactive and fragmented. To illustrate, some Irish fascists try to make links with British nationalist groups; others want to have nothing to do with them and lend critical support to the Irish republican struggle. Similarly some Irish fascists see recent eastern European immigrants as their fellow white brothers while others just simply view them as foreigners and play the ‘Ireland for the Irish’ card as usual.
The limited growth of far right groups in Ireland, even through years of mass immigration on a scale never seen before, can also be attributed to the hard work of AFA. Time and time again, the group has successfully confronted and shut down race hate outfits. In the 1990s, Dublin neo Nazi skinheads who attached themselves to Blood & Honour and then tried to set up a Dublin GAA football firm were repeatedly driven off the streets by the newly formed AFA. In the last few years, AFA has directly challenged the activities of the Immigration Control Platform (ICP), the Celtic Wolves and members of Stormfront Ireland.
Last October saw one of the most important events in recent anti-fascist history in Ireland. AFA successfully disrupted the birthday celebrations of David Kalo, a Czech neo-Nazi organiser who up until recently was living in Dublin. Up to 80 neo-Nazis from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland were expected to travel to a B&B in Kerry to listen to the musical delights of bands Conflict 88 (Czech Republic), Juden Mord (translation: “Jewish Death”) (Slovakia) and Death Varan (Slovakia). AFA contacted the media and proprietors of the B&B, which resulted in the cancelling of the gig. Most of the travelling party decided not to travel to Ireland. Those who did were greeted by a ‘welcoming party’ of anti-fascists on the Dublin quays on the Sunday evening.
AFA continues to do excellent work in combating organised racism in Ireland. Without them, there are no doubts that hate attacks on immigrants; homosexuals and left wing activists would be more frequent. AFA counter fascist groups before they get large and fearless enough to do so.