The 26 County Garda police Commissioner Drew Harris has used an attack on his own men during a right-wing riot in Dublin to smear republicans and socialists.
Last Saturday an anti-lockdown demonstration turned violent with fireworks aimed and fired at Gardaí on Grafton Street in the centre of Dublin. The crowd marched around the city centre before dispersing at the GPO, but not before three Gardaí were injured and 23 people arrested.
Harris, a former head of the notorious Special Branch/C3, claimed that both “the far-left and the far-right” were involved, and that republican and socialist groups “appeared to align themselves with far-right elements”.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee, obviously reading from the same script, went on radio to falsely blame “violent far left and republicans” for the riot.
Harris’s claims were widely ridiculed, and when he was challenged to produce evidence to support them, he failed to do so. In a statement the next day, he admitted that there was no evidence any left-wing groups were involved.
“The vast majority of those who took part belong to a number of factions including anti-vaccine, anti-mask, and anti-lockdown protestors, far-right groups, and those intent on trouble and disorder,” he said.
McEntee later explained herself by saying people should not “get caught up” with what group was involved, but this only added salt to the wound.
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said it is important the Dublin government admitted it was the far-right behind the violence.
“Why does it matter that the top Garda in the State wrongly said the far left was involved in [the] protest? Because the far right, who organised a violent anti-worker demo, thrive on this misinformation and because socialist left regularly described as such by the establishment,” he said.
Saoradh said the false claims were an “attempt to demonise the radical alternative in this country”. They denounced what they said was the use of ‘the two sides are as bad as each other’ trope from the north of Ireland, and also warned of possible British state involvement in the development of the far-right in Ireland.
“It has to be seen as part of an international trend in spreading fear, confusion and lies and an attempt to redraw political battle lines,” they said.