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Most ‘Ireland is full’ and ‘Irish lives matter’ online posts originate abroad

Anti-immigration phrases about Ireland feature more frequently in US and UK social media

The majority of online posts stoking up anti-immigrant and far-right sentiment in Ireland come from the US and UK rather than Irish users, according to analysis of social media traffic.

The research highlights the role of international figures on the international far right, including high-profile political commentators in the US, in amplifying Irish anti-immigration views, particularly since November 23rd, when rioting engulfed Dublin following a knife attack on children in the city centre.

Sam Doak, a researcher with the disinformation research organisation Logically Facts, examined the use of three phrases, or hashtags, in the last month that are closely associated with anti-immigration and far-right positions: “Ireland is full”, “Ireland belongs to the Irish”, and “Irish lives matter”.

All three phrases have been trending on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, in recent weeks.


The analysis covered posts from most major social media platforms, including X, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, which had geographical data attached. It did not analyse TikTok.

Regarding the three phrases, their combined use outside Ireland easily eclipsed their use among Irish social media users, according to Mr Doak’s analysis.

The research showed the use of the phrases increased dramatically, both in Ireland and abroad, once word started spreading that the suspect in the knife attack was born outside Ireland.

“Users in the UK and US were very, very highly represented. Which was strange because with hashtags that are very geographically specific, you wouldn’t expect to see that kind of spread,” said Mr Doak.

“These three hashtags have been heavily boosted by users in the US and UK. Taken together, UK and US users accounted for more use of the hashtags than Ireland.”

Other countries that saw use of the phrases on a much smaller scale include India, Nigeria and Spain.

The most popular phrase was “Ireland is full”, which was used 218,000 times by 60,000 accounts during the month. It was used by Irish users almost 32,000 times and about 33,000 times by US and UK accounts.

“Ireland belongs to the Irish” was used 105,000 times by 39,000 users. Just more than 10,500 of these came from Irish users compared with 20,000 from US and UK users.

“Irish lives matter” was used far more in the US than in Ireland and only became popular as a hashtag after the events of November 23rd. It was used in the US and UK about 7,000 times compared with just under 4,000 in Ireland.

In the case of all three hashtags, a large number of the posts could not be geographically located.

The popularity of the “Irish lives matter” hashtag in the US is likely mainly down to a post from an account on X called “Catturd” on November 29th which instructed its 2.1 million followers to make the phrase “trend”. The Catturd account, which is run by Phillip Buchanan, a right-wing online personality from Florida, has posts regularly amplified by X’s owner Elon Musk.

Irish far-right internet personality Keith O’Brien, who goes by the name Keith Woods and is another regular contact of Mr Musk, also played a major role in boosting the hashtag among his large US audience.

In Ireland, an investigation by the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is ongoing into a number of Irish far-right activists to determine if they played a role in inciting the violence on November 23rd.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times