Last weekend, several far-right demonstrators were pictured at the “Free Tommy Robinson” rally in front of City Hall giving Nazi salutes - and in the crowd next to them flew the distinctive flag of Generation Identity.
GI believe in ‘ethnopluralism’ and ‘remigration’, ideas advocacy group Hope Not Hate has branded “far more extreme and race-based than anything posited by groups like the English Defence League (EDL)”.
Ethnopluarlism dictates that different ethnic groups ought to live in separation from one another out of respect for their “right to difference”.
‘Remigration’ refers to the physical repatriation of any illegal immigrants to their country of origin.
According to Hope not Hate, GI’s current crop of activists, thought to be less than 100 in the UK and Ireland but into the thousands across Europe, are drawn from a range of organisations across Britain’s far-right.
These include London’s “Traditional Britain Group” and the now-proscribed neo-nazi terrorist group National Action, a member of whom this week admitted plotting to kill a Labour MP and threatening to kill a police detective investigating him for child grooming.
GI is best known for its “Defend Europe” mission, which managed to raise thousands of euro to buy a ship to block refugee vessels carrying migrants across the Mediterranean in the summer of 2017.
According to a report by Hope not Hate, GI already has a presence in Dublin and have conducted a series of promotions in Belfast, beginning with low-key 'stickering' sessions across the city in August last year.
Then, in January, the group held their first “new activists meeting” in Belfast, followed by a full conference in March and further meetings.
Notable actions carried out by GI in England include having an activist dress up as London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, accompanied by people in niqabs, walk around Westminster Abbey asking people to sign a petition to “ban Christmas”.
Another controversial tactic used by GI is handing out “warm pork suppers” to homeless people with a view to excluding Muslims.
GI differ from many far-right groups in that they do not lean in to the typical football hooligan image, shying away from balaclavas, masks and overtly-racist slogans.
The group produces stickers, leaflets and flags and have a professional online presence geared towards recruiting young, articulate members.
In March, a similar group calling themselves “Generation Sparta” carried out a racist leaflet drop in the Ravenhill area of Belfast. The literature warned against the “Islamification” of Northern Ireland.
On Thursday, Councillor Jolene Bunting, who organised Saturday’s protest, did not respond to a request for comment on her connections to GI.
However, on Thursday evening she posted a picture on her Facebook account of a GI banner flying over Westminster Bridge, being held up by members from the group’s London branch.
Above the picture Councillor Bunting wrote the following message: ““Would anyone have a contact for GI Belfast?”.