A MAN who was at one time described as a member of a ‘far-right’ group in New Zealand, and was questioned in connection with a terror threat, is believed to be in the process of moving to West Cork to join a local right-wing religious group.
Sam Brittenden, who was convicted of disorderly conduct in New Zealand after shouting obscenities about Muslims, has reached out to join the SSPX Resistance group which has created a base in Reenascreena, near Rosscarbery.
SSPX Resistance has been based at an old farmhouse since it was purchased by ‘Fr Giacomo Ballini’ in 2016.
The group is a disgruntled spin-off from the controversial Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) group which was founded in 1970 by former archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who clashed with the church following his rejection of Vatican II reforms.
One of the founding members of the SSPX Resistance is convicted holocaust denier Richard Williamson, who visited the West Cork premises and said mass there in March 2020. Sam Brittenden is reported to have been a member of white supremacist group Action Zealandia and was arrested in relation to a terror threat made against a mosque in Christchurch.
He was previously convicted of disorderly conduct after shouting ‘f** the Muslims’, a New Zealand reporter confirmed to The Southern Star.
Police raided his Christchurch home in March 2020, arresting Brittenden and charging him with failing to assist with a search warrant.
Action Zealandia has been described by the New Zealand Herald as the country’s largest neo-Nazi group, and reported last year that it was ‘on the hunt for new recruits’.
It is believed that Brittenden joined SSPX Resistance’s New Zealand chapter and was expected to move to the group’s West Cork base this month, having made arrangements to travel via Belfast.
Fellow New Zealander Annemarie Loeman, who is also a supporter of SSPX Resistance, has been in the news because she lived in a hermitage in Leap which had been set up without planning permission, along with a second woman, Irene Gibson.
Irene Gibson was convicted in December 2019 of breaching the Planning and Development Act following an unauthorised development at the site at Corran, Leap, where she and New Zealander Loeman were living in what amounted to nothing more than garden sheds, without sanitation or running water. In 2021 the women moved to a farmhouse on a 24-acre holding near Dunmanway. A crowdfunding page for the two ‘homeless’ women raised tens of thousands of euro, while a different site, which had raised over €77,000, later disappeared off the internet.
It was also reported that the women broke Covid guidelines to attend an ‘exorcism of the Dáil’ in Dublin before Christmas 2020.
A spokesperson for Bishop of Cork and Ross confirmed to The Southern Star in 2020 that the women do not belong to any religious community which is in communion with the Catholic Church. He said they entered into a schism and ‘attribute their allegiance to an organisation which was established in Spain in the 1970s and which is referred to as the Palmarian Church.’
There are now fears that extreme religious and political groupings are seeing Ireland and, in particular West Cork, as a ‘soft touch’ which also provides ease of access to the UK and the continent.