Protest against ‘hatred and disinformation’
Protest against ‘hatred and disinformation’


Attempts by racists and foreign instigators to take advantage of concern in Ireland over immigration has been dramatically opposed by more than ten thousand people who attended a public rally in Dublin last weekend.

The rally was organised to oppose a new far-right element which is seeking to upend Ireland’s reputation as a welcoming country for refugees and other international arrivals. It has capitalised on local anger at scenes of asylum seekers being bussed into working class areas under cover of darkness amid a severe housing crisis.

Disinformaton on social media, much of which is likely driven by forces outside out the country, has fuelled protests and encouraged acts of violence against immigrants, particularly in Dublin. Fake news spread on social media accused the new arrivals of being engaged in criminality, particularly sexual assault and harassing women.

Calls by some left-wing groups for open borders and unlimited immigration have also helped promote conspiracy theories around a so-called plan to ‘replace’ the native Irish.

Republicans and socialists were among the thousands who took part in the ‘Ireland For All’ march on Saturday went from Parnell Square to the Custom House. Sinn Fein was represented by its youth wing, Ogra Shinn Fein.

Veteran civil rights campaigner and former republican MP Bernadette McAliskey said the demonstration was only the start. “There are questions that have to be asked of this nation. Which side are you on? That question has to be answered by our politicians, it has to be answered by the State, by the churches, by the organisations, by the individual people,” she said. “Are you on the side of humanity, decency, equal rights, or are you on the road to fascism?”

A planned counter-protest by anti-immigration activists at Parnell Square did not materialise. This is understood to be due to the arrival of British far-right figure Tommy Robinson to support Irish anti-immigration groups.

Robinson, a convicted criminal and former leader of the English Defence League, has said he visited Ireland to “document” the anti-immigration movement. Robinson was not seen at Saturday’s demonstration, but has featured in photo-ops with anti-immigration campaigners around Ireland.

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould told the Dublin parliamewnt that Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is ‘not welcome’ in Ireland. He spoke out ahead of a planned visit by Robinson to Cork.

“I want to send a clear message out as a TD for Cork North Central and as a proud Corkman. There is no place on the streets for this man or for anyone who holds his views,” he said.

Gould added: “Don’t let him fool you. He once said: ‘I have never felt a connection to Ireland or felt Irish,” referencing an interview that Robinson took part in.

“He doesn’t care about our communities, he doesn’t care about Ireland he cares about spreading his disgusting hate. We are better than that.”

Gould made the comments during a parliamentary debate on the approach to to accommodating asylum seekers, telling TDs that one group of vulnerable people should not be pitched against another.

“I’m proud to be from the northside, I’m proud to be from Cork, I’m proud to be Irish and I’m a proud Republican,” Gould said.

“I will not stand and have our nationalist identity used by those who seek to sow hate in our communities.”

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