21 May 2020
We in Fingal Communities Against Racism, (FCAR) are disappointed at the decision of Rush GP Marcus de Brun to be interviewed by the far-right Youtuber Rowan Croft, also known as ‘Grand Torino’. We had written to Dr. De Brun urging him not to proceed with the interview.FCAR actively campaigns against narratives that try to stoke fear and hatred in our diverse community. Rowan Croft, a supporter of Gemma O’Doherty linked with far-right groups in Ireland and abroad, seeks to make far-right narratives popular in the mainstream, as well as to earn a living from monetising racist and homophobic-infused rhetoric on his YouTube channel.
In our letter to Dr. de Brun, we explained that Croft is a supporter of fascist groups and an ‘enabler’ of fascist ideas through his online activities. His YouTube channel is a conscious effort to connect and popularise the so-far unsuccessful and disunited far-right groups in Ireland with each other and with new followers. To this end he has had little success. However during the Covid19 lockdown, the interviewing of well known public figures such as Dr. De Brun and singer Johnny Logan on his YouTube channel is a strategic move to tap into a wider mainstream audience beyond the small far-right in Ireland.
We are not suggesting that Dr. De Brun or Mr. Logan share Croft’s views but being interviewed on his YouTube channel normalises Croft, allowing him to pose as a ‘journalist’ rather than exposing him for the racist, far-right organiser he really is. He is using these well known public figures to gain legitimacy, audience and money. This has real and serious consequences for our neighbours, friends and colleagues of various nationalities, ethnicities, religious and cultural backgrounds who have chosen to make Fingal home.
In our letter to Dr. de Brun, we explained that Croft actively campaigns against immigration on YouTube, live-streaming videos from Irish towns in which he promotes far-right talking points and highlights only crimes committed by people from minority groups rather than white Irish people. In a video filmed in Carrickmacross, Croft falsely claimed that Ireland has an “open door” migration policy, leading to “some of the most heinous crimes” being committed against women. He has interviewed members of far-right groups who promote hatred towards refugees, muslims and anyone who does not fit their ethno-nationalist agenda.
A self-proclaimed ‘citizen journalist’, Croft uploaded videos towards the end of last year that sought to stir up fear of refugees. The uploaded videos were from various locations of centres set to host refugees, these included locations in Donegal, Wicklow and Rooskey.There have been two arson attacks at proposed refugee centres in recent months, both of them featured in Croft’s campaign against refugees.
While we do not accuse Croft of being directly involved in these crimes, the many thousands of comments that appear on his platforms clearly suggests that they are feeding and fuelling a narrative of hate which is only increasing the risk of such violent acts.
In one of his uploads he can be seen with far-right campaigners Caolan Robertson (close associate of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson) and the Irish branch of far-right movement Generation Identity.
‘Generation Identity: Far-right group sending UK recruits to military-style training camps in Europe’ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/generation-identity-far-right-group-training-camps-europe-uk-recruits-military-white-nationalist-refugees-a8046641.html?amp
‘Tommy Robinson is back and just as extreme as ever ‘, https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2017/04/26/tommy-robinson-back-just-extreme-ever/
Croft is also linked to another far-right activist called Lauren Southern, who worked for far right Canadian site The Rebel Media, and who was banned from the UK. www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lauren-southern-far-right-canada-racist-calais-detain-uk-ban-enter-visa-a8254116.html
Croft’s campaign against refugees especially at locations featured in his videos has sparked fear and hatred. https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/hotel-owner-injured-following-arson-attack-on-property-earmarked-for-asylum-seekers-37563307.html
Croft claims he had his ‘eyes opened’ by American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones a few years ago. Described by former friends as a “grifter” many regard Croft as a Stephen Lennon (aka ‘Tommy Robinson’ founder of the English Defence League) figure, constantly asking for money to pursue his questionable pursuits of the “truth”, even while he is spreading false information.
This is why FCAR urged Dr. De Brun and would urge any other public figure to decline an invitation to be interviewed by Croft. It is not ‘just an interview’. Affording racists and fascists legitimacy and a wider audience helps them to promote their messages of hate, which in turn can lead to violence against those they target.Dr. De Brun’s decision to go ahead with the interview, in the knowledge of the above, raises very real questions about his professional tolerance for the far-right.