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Republic’s Under-15s the latest victims of the racist ‘Ireland is full’ brigade

Members of the brigade wrap themselves in the Tricolour, call themselves patriots and foment bigotry in the name of a national cause

The heavy sacrifice of the placard-carriers is reaping rewards.

The advocates of The Great Replacement theory, who have tasked themselves with the delivery of dire warnings to the families in refugee hotels, are achieving results.

The bullhorn chants from the zealots outside the migrant centres is having a knock-on effect. Ireland is full. The messaging is strong.

The proposed asylum centres that were firebombed in Moville and Roosky, the politician’s car that was burned in Ballinamore. Jeez do they have game. The migrant question is simmering nicely.


There have been a lot of them around these past few months, digital storytelling civilian journalists, who wrap themselves in the national flag, call themselves patriots, then bandy around bigotry in the name of a national cause.

Ireland is bursting at the seams. It can’t take anymore, although, we’re one million people down on the 1841 census. But that’s being picky.

Querying the lack of women and children in some accommodation centres to fuel conspiracy theories of rapists and people-traffickers has captured the far-right zeitgeist.

Last week some of the fearful went under the cover of social media, leaving the Ukrainian and Syrian and African families alone so they could target an even more vulnerable group – the Irish Under-15 football team.

The FAI went public, coming out to defend their school kids, second- and third-years, after “vile and horrific” online abuse.

They are now working with police and social media companies to identify and deal with those responsible. The only hope there is the least cunning may erroneously believe that Ireland has a first amendment, which protects the freedom to debase themselves and others.

The current law on hate speech is likely to change this year. Has anyone ever been prosecuted using the old one?

The Under-15 team had just enjoyed back-to-back 6-0 wins over Latvia. The dire stuff stays where it is. One Twitter account claimed “traditional” Irish players were being kept out of the international teams by “immigrants”.

Yep. Same with jobs. Same with houses. Ireland, even at Under-15 level, is jammed, bursting beyond capacity, positively gorged, choc-a-bloc. Don’t mention 1841.

Bundee Aki first got into the Irish rugby team in 2017 through the residency rule. The agreement allowed that if you lived in Ireland for three years, you could qualify to play for the national team. Since then, it has been changed to five years.

Then, the monoculture, the blood and soil blowhards were all the rage. Bundee got what the Under-15s got. Bundee and Simon Zebo had, for some people, similar problems. They were not white.

In Wales, Welsh internationals Colin Charvis and Aled Brew also felt the pain. They were much too not white too.

Assistant coach Simon Easterby was not born in Ireland and played with Leeds Carnegie, Llanelli and Scarlets but never the Irish provinces. His mother was Irish and he earned 65 caps with Ireland. Ronan O’Gara was born in California and Jordi Murphy in Barcelona. No problemo.

Who can tell exactly what constitutes being ‘Irish’, although those who went online to target the children seem to know.

Just as when Irish player Cyrus Christie read about calls to lynch him on social media and others on Twitter urged him to go play for Jamaica, there is no upside.

Christie had scored an own goal as Ireland slumped to a 5-1 loss at the Aviva Stadium in their World Cup play-off with Denmark in November 2017. That own goal prompted the pile-on. But racism never needs an excuse.

In 2019, while playing with Racing 92, Zebo would not specify the bile that was spewed at him by some person or persons in the Ulster crowd during a match in Belfast. Again, it would have been a mistake to look for reasons.

They were not the first racist slurs Zebo suffered. Like Dublin footballer, Jason Sherlock, Cork GAA star Sean Óg Ó hAilpín, Manchester United’s Paul McGrath, Wexford’s Lee Chin and the Under-15s, they needed only two things, talent and to look different.

Stephen Kenny’s senior Ireland squad, that played against France in a Euro 2024 qualifier last Monday, would have been a bitter pill for the close-Ireland clique, with striker Chiedozie Ogbene, who is the first African-born player to represent the nation at senior level, and Gavin Bazunu, Andrew Omobamidele Adam Idah and Michael Obafemi of Nigerian heritage.

A lot of it used to happen in the terraces at football grounds. Now the problem has moved away from the stadia cameras, where identification is possible. But unless they arrive together in great heaving gangs of tiki torch carriers, racism is uniquely cowardly.

But it has great mobility. For the Under 15s, it emerged through their use of phones, from invented twitter names and bogus accounts. Everything, everyone can be a target and every time it occurs, the only certainty is it will happen again.

There could be a jamboree near you this weekend. Connect the dots from Ballymun to Drimnagh, to Mallow and Fermoy, from Lismore, Kill and Oughterard to Achill and East Wall. Don’t forget to bring the kids.