Ireland is among a number of European countries caught up in a worldwide “wave” of right-wing extremism, the EU police agency has said.
Europol said there is a “strong international network” involving right-wing extremists from Ireland, other European countries and the US. It said here in Ireland the extremists are raising money through online donations including of cryptocurrencies (digital currencies).
In its 2020 terrorism report, the agency said incidents in Ireland in 2019 involving “anti-immigrant ideology” included arson attacks on planned direct provision centres and vehicles.
Ireland, which traditionally has not featured in Europol assessments on right-wing extremism, is mentioned numerous times in its current report.
The agency said the number of right-wing terror attacks in the EU rose from one in 2018 to six in 2019 – four in Britain and one each in Lithuania and Poland.
Two attacks in Germany were not included under their terrorism legislation, but two major attacks by right-wing extremists did occur, including the shootings in Halle in October 2019, in which a man shot dead two people after failing to enter a synagogue.
The EU Terrorism Situation & Trend Report 2020 said this attack and the massacre in Christchurch (claiming 51 lives) were “part of a wave of violent incidents worldwide, the perpetrators of which were part of similar transnational online communities and took inspiration from one another”.
On the linkages between right-wing groups, the report said: “Ireland reported a strong international network involving right-wing extremists from Ireland, other European countries and the USA.”
It went on to say: “Several EU Member States reported violent right-wing activities. In Ireland, incidents associated with anti-immigrant ideology, including arson attacks on immigrant housing facilities [direct provision centres] and a vehicle, were observed in 2019.”
Regarding funding of these groups, it said: “In Ireland, several high-profile right-wing extremist online figures ask for online donations, partially in cryptocurrencies [digital currencies]."
On links between crime and terrorism, it said: “EU Member States observed that a substantial number of terrorists have a prior criminal record, mainly in different forms of non-organised crime. In Ireland, known criminal elements have been identified as affiliated with right-wing protests.”
Last November, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris flagged his concerns on this issue: “I am concerned about right-wing extremism. We can see evidence of it on our shores as we have seen it spread across Europe."
Europol said all ten deaths in terrorist incidents in 2019 were from jihadist attacks. It said five people in Ireland were arrested in relation to jihadist extremism in 2019.