Facebook hosts livestream call to ‘blow the heads off’ Irish TD’s

Far Right Observatory uncovers death threats one week after MP in UK is murdered.

A far right religious fanatic has used Facebook to livestream a call that TD’s must meet his demands or else “we have to blow the heads off them.” Facebook continues to platform Dara O’Flaherty despite his violent calls. Reading a prepared statement that O’Flaherty says was due to be given at a protest later that day, he took to his Facebook profile with glee.

O’Flaherty’s Facebook video centres around his anger at changes to the voting technology at the Dail in 2012, stating:

“That is only the first of a list of demands I have compiled which will blow the socks off them which is what is needed before we have to blow the heads off them, ok. And I mean it. I’m not kidding. I’m connected to all types of bad people in this country. All kinds of nasty nasty people want this done.”

In the video, O’Flaherty knows that threats to murder named groups of people break Facebook's terms of use, though he clearly underestimated the tech giant’s abysmal and continuing role in hosting hate and fostering political violence. Far Right Observatory has covered this here, here and here.

“I’m a person who uses expletives and I want you to understand how difficult it is to not fall foul of the Facebook Nazis and the YouTube Nazis. [If] I use the F word this [video] will disappear y’know. So this is difficult for me”

Since the video was first published it has been viewed almost 4,500 times, and was shared by the far right Yellow Vest movement headed by Glenn Miller. At the time of broadcast O’Flaherty was — and still is -part of that movement. During his rabid rant to camera, O’Flaherty makes his role as a Yellow Vest organiser apparent. You can read this in the fuller excerpt for the 16-minute video below

Besides being active in Glenn Miller’s Yellow Vest movement, Galway based O’Flaherty has been an active agitator over the last few years, working with the two main fascist groups in Ireland, the National Party (NP) and Síol na hÉireann. In recent months O’Flaherty has been co-organising doorstep protests at the homes of elected representatives and health workers along with Síol na hÉireann member Andy Heasman.

Síol na hÉireann present themselves as an ultra-Catholic Irish Nationalist group but are actually the brainchild of British white supremacist Jim Dowson who has extensive links with loyalist groups. Both Dowson and NP leader Justin Barrett have previously worked together on anti-abortion campaigns.

44 year old O’Flaherty has also worked closely with Hermann Kelly’s far right Irish Freedom Party(IFP) in promoting and canvassing for IFP candidates in local and national elections. In November 2020 Kelly’s IFP organisation posted a video entitled “Katie McGrath and Dara O’Flaherty have just been released after being taken into custody by the Gardai for handing out anti-lockdown leaflets. Something to celebrate.”

O’Flaherty has himself stood for elections. In 2019 he ran in local elections in Galway City Central, garnering less than 90 votes from a total of just under 8,000 votes, a total considerably lower than the number of spoilt votes. His election literature from the 2019 local elections shows he used Facebook as his primary vehicle for canvassing. It was on this Facebook profile that he made his threat that TD’s would have ‘the heads blown off them.’ Since the threat was broadcast, O’Flaherty has amassed over 140,000 video views according to public Facebook metrics. He then later ran in the 2020 general elections gaining an even smaller percentage vote.

O’Flaherty’s election run was supported by right wing media outfit Gript. Gript’s Tim Jackson wrote a puff piece on O’Flaherty that feigned ignorance of O’Flaherty’s violent tendencies and underplaying the deep racism on his platform. This is perhaps unsurprising given the far right links of some of Gript’s directors. Indeed several have previously worked with National Party leader Justin Barret, in the now-defunct violent Catholic fundamentalist group Youth Defense. You can find an archived version of Tim Jackson’s piece here

Full excerpt from Dara O’Flaherty’s Facebook video

“If this isn't throwing shit up on our harp I don't know what is. This is an absolute disregard for the nature of trust that we put in those people, when we allow them to put an insecure system into our Dail... I’m a person who uses expletives and I want you to understand how difficult it is to not fall foul of the Facebook Nazis and the YouTube Nazis. I use the F word this [video] disappears you know. So this is difficult for me

I'm a man of no property I don't have a lot to lose you know and I have been restraining myself for quite some time. There will be no more restraint. I'm not waiting around here to be dragged on into the shit with the rest of you. I'm not doing it. So, you guys better decide are you going to spend the rest of your lives on your knees eating shit directly out of the ass holes of the shit gibbons you have elected to our fucking Dail? Are ya? Because I'm fucking not.

I’m going to Dublin and I’m going to Dail Eireann, and I expect to see the vast majority of the people who can walk and talk. I don’t want any more of your excuses, I don’t know what to do. Oh what can we do the Dail is falling apart and I don’t know what to do…

I’m going to go and hold my Yellow Vest protest. I trust the Yellow Vests to hold a protest outside the Dail to demand that our President fire our TD’s. I don't want any of those TDs to resign, they haven't had the neck to resign up to now and I don't want them to have the opportunity to resign. I want us to to I want us to demand from Dail sometime in the next week that our President issue an order to dissolve the Dail and fire every one of them, so they not so they are not entitled to any single benefit or any type of pay from that day on from the state.

That is only the first of a list of demands I have compiled which will blow the socks off them which is what is needed before we have to blow the heads off them, ok. And I mean it. I'm not kidding. I'm connected to all types of bad people in this country. All kinds of nasty nasty people want this done. And they will do it if we don't. So I'm saying now we have a chance to resolve this peacefully. I'm saying we better do it quickly because the Rubicon has been crossed…

Up to now i can say these things without the fear of being? interrupted. This speech comes under the Public Order Act, secondly someone could go into the Garda station and say I have insulted them. The charge would be to engage in threatening our abusive or insulting behaviour. And being convicted of that crime all that is needed is the opinion of a Garda.. The guard has no choice but to make a statement that supports his arrest charge. This is an attack, a hate speech charge because I thoroughly hate, and I'm encouraging you to hate every TD that has been elected. Regardless of what I'm saying the question is do you think I should go to prison for what I'm saying. And do you think I should be vilified as a hate preacher? It's up to you I'm gonna do what I always do. I ain't eating no shit. Bye.

That a video threatening the murder of TD’s remains on Facebook two years after it was first broadcast is another example of Facebook's failure in removing violent far right content on its site.

But failed instances of content moderation are only part of the picture. Facebook is an organising tool of far right movements and networks in Ireland. Fascist groups like the National Party and Síol na hÉireann and far right movements like Yellow Vest continue to grow an audience for their narratives of hate. Individuals such as O’Flaherty can broadcast death threats to elected representatives and still maintain Facebook profile and Instagram accounts. This video has over 4,400 views and O’Flaherty’s total video views on his Facebook profile now exceed 140,000 views.

These threats and ratcheting up of political violence have real-world consequences. Only this week National Party member Michael Quinn was sentenced to three years in prison for a violent attack coordinated by a National Party street gang. Nor should it be forgotten that in recent days we have seen an MP in the UK murdered in his constituency office.

Given O’Flaherty’s call for Irish elected representatives to be attacked for not meeting his demand is still hosted on Facebook, and his ongoing protests at elected representatives’ homes are being livestreamed on Facebook, we have to ask once more why underresourced community organisations are forced to do the heavy lifting for one of the world's richest companies headquartered in Ireland.

Information to combat hate movements in Ireland