Nazi druids are the best tree huggers

Sunday Times February 20, 2005 Liam Fay

Say what you like about Adolf Hitler but he wouldn't have built an autobahn through the Tara-Skryne valley. The Nazis were keen environmentalists, fervent believers in the mystical powers of nature. Some of the party's kingpins were occultists who worshipped the Earth as a mother goddess, and never met a tree they didn't want to hug. Had Hitler achieved his ambition, and established a Third Reich that extended from the Urals to the Atlantic, it is unthinkable that, today, his puppet administration in a German-run Ireland would permit the routing of the M3 motorway so close to one of the most sacred pagan sites in Europe.

Speculation about how a Nazi junta might have handled the M3 controversy may seem idle. It isn't. Just ask Michael J McGrath, self-styled Arch Druid of Tara and a prominent player in the campaign against the contentious motorway. A striking figure in his golden cloak and ceremonial doodads, McGrath regularly features on the frontline of Save Tara protests, and has become an unofficial mascot for the hundreds of activists who have rallied to the cause.

Few if any of these people realise that the Arch Druid harbours a dark secret; before he became a wizard, he was a Nazi. In the mid-1980s, McGrath was a big noise in Ireland's National Socialist Party (NSP), a neo-Nazi organisation with links to similar groups worldwide. A candidate in several local elections, he boasted about his hatred of Jews, immigrants and homosexuals. "Hitler is the future," was among the slogans on which his party campaigned.

A native of Kilkenny, McGrath's political manifesto advocated the "supremacy of the white Celtic race". He promoted the repatriation of "all non-white doctors" and claimed that Kilkenny was under threat from "satanic perversions" - by which he meant the town's then tiny gay community. Though he also sought election on a pro-life and family values ticket during the 1980s, anti- Semitism appeared to be his greatest passion. He was exercised by what he saw as a Jewish plot to take over Irish politics. "They are infiltrating all the parties," he told New Hibernia magazine in 1986."Ben Briscoe (a former Fianna Fail TD) led the revolt against Haughey and had he been successful Fianna Fail would have fallen into the hands of the Jews."

Despite his zeal, McGrath was an unsuccessful demagogue. When he stood for Kilkenny Corporation in 1985, he polled 42 votes and demanded a recount. "I have quite a lot of relations and felt I should have got more votes," he said.

These days, however, McGrath poses as a peace-loving conservationist. Where once he wrote letters to newspapers downplaying the Holocaust, he now pens lyrical missives to editors about the spiritually-healing grandeur of Tara, pledging to oppose anyone who tampers with his Celtic heritage.

The uniform may have changed but the dream lives on.

Make a Free Website with Yola.