Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Ryan Hogg

Elon Musk claims Ireland PM 'hates the Irish people'

(Credit: Leon Neal—Getty Images)

Elon Musk likes to fight. The billionaire owner of X, formerly Twitter, has gotten into arguments with everyone from his own Tesla employees to billionaire bosses like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg.

Now, the European tech hub of Ireland has been caught in his crosshairs, but for reasons much more troubling than the regulatory issues that have encompassed many of Musk's previous battles. 

The world’s richest man has claimed Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar “hates the Irish people” following his response to massive civil unrest in the country last week. Musk has since been accused of inciting violence against immigrants as the country responds to its biggest outbreak of riots in decades.

Musk weighs into Irish culture war

Ireland’s capital of Dublin was engulfed by riots last Thursday after five people including three children were stabbed, reportedly by a non-Irish citizen (it later emerged that the suspect in custody was an Irish citizen who immigrated from Algeria). Buses and police cars were set alight and more than 30 people appeared in court with charges related to the unrest.

At a press conference last Friday, Ireland’s police chief Drew Harris blamed the outbreak of rioting on a “lunatic hooligan faction, driven by far-right ideology.”

As a highly liberal country with a strong history of emigration that has traditionally made it more sympathetic to immigrants, Ireland was seen as a surprising country for right-wing unrest to take root. The country welcomed 90,000 Ukrainian refugees following Russia’s invasion last year, which contributed to its highest level of immigration since 2007, according to the Central Statistics Office. 

However, the share of Ireland’s population born in the country has dropped by 3 percentage points since 2016, according to the CSO, causing anxiety among some of the population. Thursday’s actions have now put Ireland’s far-right further into the spotlight after protestors gathered outside parliament earlier in November

Musk’s posts on X appear to show his sympathies towards that cause, while seeing him double down on his self-proclaimed principle of "free speech absolutism."

The Tesla CEO said Varadkar “hates the Irish people” in response to plans by the Prime Minister’s coalition government to introduce new hate speech laws in the country. The bill would give police more powers to punish harmful speech against protected groups including foreign nationals, ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Musk has condemned the bill in the past, describing it as a “massive attack against freedom of speech.” Donald Trump Jr. has also shown his opposition to the proposed new laws.

He wrote a further post suggesting Irish people making memes could be the victim of a police raid in the future. 

Musk made no direct reference to Irish immigration or to the rioting in Dublin. However, the timing of his latest comments around hate speech laws has been met with criticism in Ireland. 

In an interview on Irish station RTE Radio 1 David Cullinane—an elected representative for opposition party Sinn Féin—accused Musk of “inciting hatred and violence among certain people” with his comments, the Irish Independent reported.

Musk added further controversy to his role in the debate by saying that calls for UFC fighter Conor McGregor to run for office in Ireland were “not a bad idea.”

McGregor was among people pushing for immigration reforms in Ireland following the stabbings. He responded to Harris’s comments that a far-right faction drove the riots as “not good enough,” but said he didn’t condone the rioting in Dublin.

However, McGregor had also claimed that Ireland was “at war” in the wake of the stabbings, adding after the riots that “you reap what you sow.” The Irish Mirror reported that McGregor was now being investigated by Irish police for the role of those posts in inciting the violence in Dublin.

Musk’s self-proclaimed role as a “free speech absolutist” has seen him pile into policy debates. In September he sued the state of California over its plans to force social media companies to disclose their policies around hate speech and other incendiary content.

However, Musk said it was really part of a plan to block posts "viewed by the state as problematic."

Musk has also waded into other cultural issues in recent years, adding arguments around trans rights to his hard stance on immigration. The CEO showed up at the Texas border in September to rally against illegal immigration from Mexico

“The border crisis is worse every day,” Musk posted, as he carried out what he referred to as "citizen journalism."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.