The Hidden Face of Direct Democracy Ireland

Direct Democracy Ireland. A relatively new political party often put forth as a viable alternative to the current Fine Gael/Labour government by employing a new type of political process in the country. I’m a something of a syndicalist so the idea of direct democracy is something that appeals to me, so I decided to do a bit of research into Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI) to see if they would be a group I could support, or at least keep an eye on.

Lo and behold, just a little bit of research turned up some interesting points, and not the sort of stuff I was expecting. Here’s what I found out.

I first heard of Direct Democracy Ireland on the run up to the last General Election, and again when Ben Gilroy ran for by-election in Meath East in March 2013. Having seen his poster on my trips to and from home, I guessed Gilroy was as good a place as any to start.

A quick google revealed that Gilroy’s was promoted by the Christian Solidarity Party, with the CSP leader Richard Greene taking out an ad in the classifieds section of the Catholic paper Alive!. As soon as I saw the word ‘abortion’ I sighed: I knew where this was going and I knew that I probably would not be supporting DDI.

On the same site (irishelectionliterature.wordpress.com - a very interesting site; do visit it) I followed a link to Jane Murphy’s campaign leaflet when she was running in South Dublin in the 2011 General Election. What’s this? Murphy was running for two parties: Direct Democracy Ireland and the Christian Solidarity Party.

This doesn’t bode well. Now, of course people can have politics and religious beliefs that seem to be at odds with each other (I know Catholic communists, for example), but the idea of direct democracy as a form of government is inherently anarchistic, or at the very least quite left-wing. When far-right publications like Alive! are used to promote the Gilroy’s stance on abortion despite public opinion and Murphy is oddly running for both Direct Democracy Ireland as well as a right-wing faith-based party, it doesn’t take much to realise something doesn’t quite match up.

Direct Democracy Ireland was founded by Raymond Whitehead, so I poked around for some information on him. It seems that both he and Jane Murphy declared their anti-choice stance with the European Life Network prior to the 2011 General Election. A man called Manus Mac Meanmain appears on that list, too. Not only is Manus a member of the Christian Solidarity Party along with Murphy, but he is a blogger for a certain group we’ve all grown to dislike: The Life Institute (an alternative front for Youth Defence).

The rabbit-hole gets deeper, particularly when it comes to the Christian Solidarity Party.

Another Murphy – Eamonn – ran for election in 1992 with the Christian Centrist Party (which later became the CSP). In 2002, Michael Larkin ran for election with the CSP. Both of these men are directors with the Pro – Life Alliance Ltd. Eamonn Murphy ran the Aadams Agency, a rogue pregnancy advice centre that coaxed women into not getting an abortion. The agency changed its name a few times to become A Choice for Women, which was registered by Larkin. The premises from which these groups operated from is 50 Dorset St, Dublin 1. I pass the building quite regularly, and at the moment it appears to be unused.

Larkin and Murphy – through staff at the agency – deceived women and exploited their emotional vulnerabilities to further their anti-choice aims. An in-depth report on their activities can be found on the Choice Ireland blog.

There you have it. Not quite what I expected to find when I first started looking into Direct Democracy Ireland. I also recommend reading Red Head’s post Ben Gilroy and the Far-Right, and the Wikipedia article about Freemen on the land to get a better sense of DDI.

Would I support a party that hides its true position on the political spectrum? No.

Would I support a party with tight links to a religious political party? No.

Would I support a party connected to people that set up rogue pregnancy advice centres? No.