Will Ireland turn to a former MMA fighter for its next leader? Conor McGregor teases run

Immigrant crime surge fuels Irish discontent. The Irish Prison Service reported more than 20 percent of individuals who were imprisoned last year did not hold Irish nationality.

Published: December 11, 2023 11:00pm

Conor McGregor thrilled the mixed martial arts world when he became the first fighter to hold two simultaneous championship belts in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Now the 35-year-old bruiser may be setting his sights on competing in a very different arena: politics.

McGregor took to the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, earlier this month to float the idea of running for president of Ireland, where voters are wary of illegal immigration and crime.

Potential rivals for the presidency, the MMA star noted, include Gerry Adams, an ex-IRA member, Bertie Ahern, the ex-Taoiseach (Irish PM) accused of corruption, and Enda Kenny, another ex-Taoiseach. McGregor accused the three men, all in their 70’s, of having “unbreakable ties to their individual parties' politics.”

Then, rather provocatively, he asked his 10.4 million social followers if they would prefer to vote for him. “35. Young, active, passionate, fresh skin in the game,” he boasted.

The majority said yes.

The tweet made headlines around the world, with X owner Elon Musk replying: "I think you could take them all single-handed. Not even fair."

Could McGregor really become the next president of Ireland? Don’t bet against it.

Irish people appear to be fed up with rising immigrant crime and the political status quo — and McGregor is an outspoken critic of the current establishment. For instance, he tweeted last Wednesday: “Don’t ever forget this while our government sits in the daily chamber doing nothing but pointing their fingers across at one another.

"We are sick of it!" he added. "Do something! Multiple solid suggestions have been put forward, where is our move of action? What are we doing? We are not forgetting. We need to see action.”

According to recent polling data, a significant portion of the Irish people have lost faith in the current government. The disillusionment has, in part, been fueled by the significant surge in immigrants entering the country — a 50 percent increase year-on-year. Moreover, as data shows, many of the people who have entered Ireland in recent times have committed crimes.

The most recent report from the Irish Prison Service reveals that more than 20 percent of the individuals who were imprisoned last year did not hold Irish nationality. It is estimated that 17 percent of the current population (equivalent to 1 in 6 people) was born outside of Ireland.

In November, a man of Algerian descent stabbed three children and a woman outside a school in Dublin. One of the victims, a five-year-old girl, suffered severe chest injuries. The attack sent shockwaves across the country.

To compound matters, the foreign national, who has never been employed during his 20 years in Ireland, had previously been arrested for another stabbing. Moreover, he successfully appealed against deportation.

A few hours after the stabbings occurred, severe riots broke out across the Irish capital, with dozens of individuals apprehended and injured. The riots came shortly after the conviction of another foreign-born criminal, Jozef Puska, for the tragic murder of Aishling Murphy, a 23-year-old teacher and musician who was stabbed 11 times in the neck while out for a jog. The brutal murder occurred in broad daylight.

Of course, Ireland doesn’t have a monopoly on violent crime, nor does it have a monopoly on disillusionment with political elites.

Across the Atlantic in the United States, a country that shares a close bond with Ireland, another outspoken brawler is reportedly considering running for president. That man is Jesse Ventura.

Famously known as "The Body," the ex-professional World Wrestling Federation wrestler and former governor of Minnesota has spoken about the possibility of running next year, but only if one specific condition is fulfilled: that he is allowed ballot access in all 50 states.

Comparisons between Ventura and McGregor are warranted. After all, wrestling is a close cousin of MMA. Moreover, Ventura, like McGregor, has a history of criticizing the ruling class, openly and unapologetically.

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