NewsCrime Desk

Anti Islam group patrolling Dublin

Soldiers of Odin
Soldiers of Odin

AN anti-Islamic group who have started street patrols in several Irish towns in recent weeks say they are not thugs, but will defend themselves if necessary.

Soldiers of Odin (SoO)was formed in Finland last October, carrying out street patrols which they said were to protect people, particularly women, from attacks from immigrants.

Their founder, Mika Ranta, is a self-confessed neo-Nazi with a conviction for a racially-motivated assault.

An Irish branch of the group was set up this year and is led by a Portuguese man living in Carlow. They have posted pictures of themselves carrying out “patrols” in places including Dublin, Wexford, Laois and Kilkenny.

The group take pictures of themselves on patrol with their backs to the camera and are unwilling to show their faces. There are only around a dozen people in the pictures and it is understood several are immigrants to Ireland.

They also seem confused on where they stand on many issues, continuously contradicting themselves.

While online they boast about being “ready to rumble” with anti-racist groups, they told the Sunday World they were non-violent. They also say they want to protect women from sex attacks, but a leading member of the group posted online that he hoped a woman and her family were gang-raped.

They also seem confused about their stance on gay people. They attended the Gay Pride festival last weekend saying they were there to prevent anyone attacking it, but weeks earlier they attacked gay people online, calling them the “gaystapo” and warning “no homosex” would be tolerated

A spokesman for Soldiers of Odin Ireland told the Sunday World the aim of the group was to “highlight the evils of Islam and to start the debate on how followers of Islam demand that we respect and conform to their ways”.

He said the group was non-violent, but added: “We will defend ourselves if necessary.”

Asked why the group are unwilling to reveal their identities, he said: “People will immediately assume that you are some kind of thug. This is far from the truth. Even the media will portray us the same. This can lead to problems in work and family life.”

He said the group was made up of many different nationalities and religions, but confirmed there were no black members.

Asked what the purpose of the patrols was, he said: “Patrols are carried out if we are told of problems in particular areas.”

Following a recent visit by SoO to Monasterevin, in Co. Laois, another group called Anti-Fascist Action visited the town to distribute leaflets describing SoO as “violent far-right thugs”.

An AFA spokesperson said: “We cannot allow racist thugs to create division in our communities, or attack people because of their nationality, colour or religion.”

Shane O’Curry, Director of the European Network Against Racism, described SoO as a “very marginal group of sad individuals trying to make themselves relevant”.

He added that the fact they hide their identities was not surprising.

“It’s consistent with their level of engagement. They’re cowards. They’re clowns really.”

After being unable to explain many of the contradictions, the SoO spokesman ended our conversation, saying “do not contact us again”.