Anti-Corruption Ireland (ACI) is an unregistered political party associated with candidates who ran in the 2020 elections and gained tiny vote shares. It is led by Gemma O’Doherty, who says she is an “award-winning reporter.” O’Doherty’s views are so extreme—she’s rabidly anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ and pushes conspiracies–that she has been banned from most mainstream social media. She once argued that the 2019 Christchurch, N.Z., mosque shootings were a “false flag” operation rather the act of a violent white supremacist. The party’s slogan is “It’s time to take our country back” and ACI’s principals have pushed white nationalist anti-immigrant messages including the Great Replacement conspiracy theory.
During a party meeting in January 2020, John Waters, one of ACI’s candidates, said, “many of the ethnicities that are coming here” have “fertility rates that are two or three times the Irish rate.” He then claimed the Great Replacement would happen in Ireland. The party calls for an end to “uncontrolled immigration” and takes up other far right agendas and conspiracy theories. On its website, tACI promises to “fight against the threat of globalism and Agenda 21,” a voluntary UN effort to improve sustainability. American far-right movements, starting over a decade ago, pushed the idea that Agenda 21 is actually a stealth global conspiracy to take over various countries and impose a socialist agenda. ACI wrongly claims Agenda 21 “is dismantling our national sovereignty, cultural and natural heritage and endangering our independence.”
ACI wants to ban the Open Society Foundations, long a far-right bogeyman for its funding of progressive causes, end the fluoridation of water, and remove “cultural Marxism” from schools. The use of the term cultural Marxism indicates ACI is well attuned to American white nationalist conspiracy theories, where raging against cultural Marxism, a far-right, often antisemitic “theory” that claims academics and intellectuals are poisoning and subverting Western culture, is commonplace. In April 2020, Waters and O’Doherty launched a legal action against Ireland’s pandemic restrictions, seeking to have parts of the legislation declared null and void. During a court hearing, O’Doherty argued that the vast majority of people were unaffected by covid, and that people should be allowed to go outside and “build up a herd immunity.” The case was ultimately dismissed.