We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Racism, doxxing and assaults among dozens of incidents of abuse of 2024 election candidates

A new report has logged at least 36 incidents in this year’s campaign.

CANDIDATES STANDING IN this year’s local and European elections faced political intimidation in person and online on at least 36 occasions, according to a new report.

An analysis of incidents by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Hope and Courage Collective (H&CC) found that candidates across the political spectrum were targeted dozens of times since the campaign officially began on 6 May.

The incidents uncovered by the two think-tanks included racist abuse, harassment, physical violence and sexually-charged abuse.

It highlighted common themes from those involved in intimidation and harassment, including claims that established politicians are “traitors” and the issuing of “sinister threats” to candidates.

“Racism and anti-migrant hate speech were widespread, particularly when migrant candidates were harassed,” the report said.

“In seven incidents, the perpetrators specifically confronted candidates over their stance on immigration.”

The report said that the majority of those taking part were “influenced by far-right rhetoric”, and that this was in line with wider trends in Europe, where violence targeting politicians motivated by far-right ideology are on the rise.

“These incidents, and many others throughout the campaign which have not been reported on, are a sign of a sea change in Irish politics, where confrontational and aggressive tactics are used to attempt to silence political opposition,” it said.

However, while independents and those running from established parties were subjected to intimidation in almost all incidents, the report also noted that one incident was linked to a candidate running for the far-right party Ireland First.

Racist abuse

Of the 36 incidents, 13 targeted candidates from migrant backgrounds and featured racially-charged abuse.

More than 100 candidates from migrant backgrounds – more than half of whom are women – ran in the local elections, marking a new record.

In recent weeks a number of videos have been posted online showing people approaching non-white candidates and asking them why they are putting up posters or telling them to take them down.

Canvassers for migrant candidates have also been targeted, including those working on behalf of Fianna Fáil’s Suzzie O’Deniyi, a local candidate running in Limerick whose parents are originally from Nigeria and who moved to Limerick when she was five.

Footage shared online showed canvassers for O’Deniyi being aggressively confronted while they handed out flyers on 12 May, when they were subjected to racist and sexually-charged abuse.

She later spoke about the incident to The Irish Times and one man was subsequently charged with two counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour over the incident.

In another incident, Fine Gael candidate Linkwinstar Mattatil Mathew was filmed while being racially abused for putting up election posters in the Artane-Whitehall area of Dublin.

Mathew, who is originally from India but has lived in Dublin for 18 years, told The Journal that he and his team told to take down the posters and to go “back to where they came from”.

The report also found that 21 incidents targeted women and 15 targeted men.

Two incidents, which both took place on the same evening, saw two female councillors – Independent Tania Doyle and the Green Party’s Janet Horner – physically assaulted while they put up posters in Dublin.

Horner told The Irish Times that she was approached by a man who was “roaring”, “very confrontational” and who said ”Dublin 1 is for the far-right” before he threatened to kill her.

Tania Doyle told The Journal that she and her husband were approached and attacked by a man who asked about her position on immigration.

She said the attack left her husband’s glasses “smashed into his face” and that he was “black and blue from head to toe” afterwards.

Online incidents

The report by ISD and H&CC found that 11 of the 36 incidents occurred online, where candidates were threatened, doxxed (where private or identifying information is posted on the internet) or targeted with hate speech or misinformation.

Several of those later spoke about publicly about being harassed.

One Fine Gael candidate, Ejiro O’Hare-Stratton who is running in Drogheda, was subject to racist abuse online when a party video featuring her was re-shared by a far-right account on X and overdubbed with monkey noises.

Another incident saw Limerick mayoral candidate Daniel Butler doxxed, with his address shared online and threats to smash his windows posted on TikTok. Other threats also targeted his family, including his two young children.

An independent candidate in Meath, Sivakumar Murugadoss, who has lived in Ireland for 21 years, was subjected to claims that he had only recently moved to Ireland and that his candidacy was a sign of “foreign interference” in the elections.

The tweet was viewed more than 40,000 times before it was deleted.

Natalya Krasnenkova, a local election candidate in Kerry who is originally from Ukraine, was similarly targeted with claims that her candidacy was a sign of “foreign electoral interference”. 

“It is deeply concerning that most of those who received intimidation, threats and violence come from the very groups who are already underrepresented in Irish politics as a whole,” the report concluded.

“If this worrying trend continues it could impact the recent gains made in the diversity of candidates contesting Irish elections, and in turn impact Irish democracy as a whole.”

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.