The UCC Government and Politics Society have invited British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin to speak at a debate on campus in February. This announcement comes only shortly after Griffin’s invitation to Trinity College was cancelled in the face of opposition mounted by anti-fascist campaigners, including members of Trinity Socialist Society.
The BNP are a neo-nazi organisation. They believe in expelling all black people, Asians, refugees and asylum seekers from Britain. They have terrorised black and Asian communities and are responsible for racist murders and brutal racist assaults. They have also attacked trade unionists and socialists. Disturbingly, the BNP have recently announced their intention to form a sister organisation in Ireland. Simon Darby, a senior BNP member told the TCD University Times that ‘“There is nothing I would like to see more than an Irish National Party representing the interests of the Irish people.”
The threat of fascist organisation to immigrants, LGBT people, minority groups and anti-fascist activists cannot be overstated. An article in the Guardian published in 2010 used police statistics to prove that racist attacks rose in areas where the BNP had won elected positions even as the number of racist attacks fell elsewhere. In Chelmeley Wood, a suburb of Birmingham, the average incidence of racist attacks doubled following the election of BNP member George Morgan. Nick Griffin is not interested in polite debate. Indeed, he has described the BNP as a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan “Defend Rights for Whites” with well-directed boots and fists’. He will use the debate as an opportunity to recruit and to organise. The right of ordinary people to safety must take precedence over an abstract commitment to free speech.
Already, the visit has encountered opposition from students, staff and local residents. A campaign, ‘Cork Against Fascism’, has been formed with the intention of preventing the visit. The campaign is calling for the UCC Government and Politics Society to withdraw the invitation. If this fails to happen, then the campaign will mobilise a protest and stop Nick Griffin from speaking.