Donegal farmer Niall McConnell, leader of what he terms is “Ireland's only Catholic nationalist movement, Síol na h'Éireann,” is continuing to develop his “Irish Food Aid initiative, bringing hundreds of volunteers and tonnes of food donations nationwide in a cross border humanitarian campaign to Athlone, Dublin, Cork, Offaly, Carlow, Antrim, Derry and Belfast.”
The controversial figure is purchasing a second load of food, comprising six tonnes of lentils, potatoes, carrots and onions and distributing volunteer packs so local ‘oglaigh’ can patrol their areas.
He explained that volunteers are distributing colour coded cards for vulnerable Irish people to place in their windows with "I'm OK" and "I Need Help" so that “nationalist volunteers” can assist vulnerable elderly people in need and distribute food and other aid accordingly.
He stated; "I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response to Irish Food Aid, I couldn't be happier with the help we have received from our brave volunteers, it's been an incredible success. But I have to ask the public for more."
Mr. McConnell, who unsuccessfully contested the Donegal constituency in the recent general election, has proven to be a controversial figure, not least due to his far-right views.
Earlier this month, a Derry councillor hit out at McConnell’s ‘far right’ group for posting leaflets in the Creggan estate offering assistance to the local community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr. Gary Donnelly has criticised McConnell’s Siol na hEireann (SNH) movement how it has advocated sending people of all other nationalities back to their homeland.
Councillor for the Moor area in Derry, Cllr. Donnelly said the people of Creggan would not fall for the ‘cheap publicity stunt’ and called for it to be ‘resisted vigorously’.
It is ‘dangerous’ for SNH to leave flyers at peoples’ doors offering assistance but with no local contact number, he claimed.
Cllr Donnelly criticised the SNH stance on immigration and voiced his support for all nationalities living in Ireland, including the many migrants currently working on the frontline as doctors and nurses. The Irish have themselves emigrated all over the world, he added.
“So the far right can feel comfortable enough to distribute food parcels and information leaflets in working class areas like Creggan, then it’s time Socialists and Republicans got their acts together,” he said.
And he added: “Even if this was a publicity stunt or tokenism, it is very clear that fascism and racism is on the rise. A cursory glance at their social media will, without doubt back this up.
“Over the last few weeks I could have made numerous political points about issues connected to this current crisis but didn’t feel it was the right time given the magnitude of what we are facing as a community.”
Meanwhile, Mr. McConnell has expressed his thanks for those who have supported his food-aid efforts around the country.
He added: "As the Covid-19 crisis starts biting hard many are now coming under increased pressure just keeping house and home together, with the elderly and those with young children bearing the brunt of these extraordinary circumstances."
"This is why I have been fundraising for another six tonnes of food for the elderly. There are so many vulnerable Irish people and we are the only group distributing food and help for the vulnerable nationwide. We need volunteers now more than ever!"
Earlier this month he released a video about his community aid emergency pack which you can see
He has posted up a number of videos with people backing his movement, including this one from Carlow which you can see HERE
On its website, Síol na hÉireann says its mission is to “develop community action programmes, counter-power initiatives and cultural activities which help Irish people stop being bystanders and spectators and become active and effective campaigners.”
Mr. McConnell got 580 first preference votes in the five-seat Donegal constituency in the 2020 General Election.
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