A Twitter campaign extolling the racial diversity of modern Ireland took a dark turn after trolls attacked users for being Irish. Asian Irish woman Úna-Minh Caomhánach from Kerry started the hashtag to showcase the multiracial nature of Ireland but was swiftly hit by a backlash.
“The idea for #WeAreIrish came as a complete spur of the moment thing for me this week,” she told IrishCentral.
“I talk a fair bit about Ireland and the concept of Irishness (a lot of people don't accept me despite the fact that I've both an Irish passport and birth certificate). I wanted to create an image that shows how multicultural Ireland is these days. The image has a wide mix of people but with one thing in common: they're Irish.
“As a background to some of the people featured, they're Irish in different capacities. Some are adopted like me, some were born here, others have one Irish parent. I wanted to make a point that our color doesn't matter. Sprinkled into the collage too are people like RTÉ radio presenter Rick O'Shea, Comedian Tara Flynn and author Sarah Maria Griffin.”
But a simple image of non-white Irish citizens provoked a huge racist backlash.
@unakavanagh No, you're not Irish. You just have a passport.— VirginiaV (@VirginiaV17) April 19, 2017
Being in Ireland does not mean you're Irish.#WeAreIrish— James Thornhurn (@Thornhurn) April 19, 2017
#WeAreIrish is about making indigenous white Irish people a minority in their own homeland, despite never colonizing or enslaving anybody.— ShadilayForever ?? (@ShadilayForever) April 19, 2017
No you're not.#WeAreIrish— Plantation Watch ? (@statsmen) April 19, 2017
If you are that upset that there aren't enough brown people in commercials literally move to any other country #WeAreIrish— Parriah (@PParriah) April 19, 2017
However, plenty of people weighed in supportively too.
@unakavanagh That's very true and very lovely; but I reserve the right to point at certain people and go "look at the big Irish head on him"— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) April 19, 2017
Lots of talk about Irishness on the #weareirish but how many of the trolls played county?— Saint Nicholas (@NioclasN) April 20, 2017
Cause I did ?
I am an Irishman. A proud, half-white, half-Asian, Irishman. I pity those that upsets. Theyre sufferers of a disease of the mind #weareirish— Dean Van Nguyen (@deanvannguyen) April 18, 2017
Think the bigots on #WeAreIrish underestimated the difficulty of promoting white supremacy to a nation that can't even accept compliments.— Ciara (@Ciaraioch) April 21, 2017
#WeAreIrish has become a focus for hatred from anonymous racists. To these poor, pathetic, inadequate gowls, it's ok. You can be Irish too.— Peadar Ó Caomhánaigh (@TheKavOfficial) April 19, 2017
The 2016 census found that 233,000 people living in Ireland came from non-white ethnic backgrounds with a further 124,000 declining to state their ethnicity.