A large anti-immigration rally protested at the offices of several major media organisations in Dublin city today saying they are being wrongly portrayed as ‘far-right’.
ore than 2,000 people gathered at Connolly Station and then marched in growing numbers to the offices of Mediahuis, who print the Irish Independent, and then to the offices of the Irish Times on Tara Street, the Bauer Media group on Digges Lane which owns radio stations including Newstalk and Today FM, and then to the offices of Bay Broadcasting on Castleforbes Road in the Dockland area which controls a number of radio stations.
The protestors were made up of members of different communities, some of whom have held smaller separate protests in recent months, from areas such as East Wall, Cabra, Finglas, Drimnagh and Summerhill.
Outside the offices of Mediahuis on Talbot Street, speaker Malachy Steenson addressed the crowd and was critical of the media, saying it portrayed protestors as “far right”.
“When someone arrives in immigration and they have no passport they tell them to get back on the plane. But then the people say they’re claiming asylum and they take them in. That’s the problem, and that’s what has to change,” he said.
He added that the housing of refugees in a school in Drimnagh over the Christmas holidays was “a trial run for what they’re going to do in the summer when the secondary schools close”.
“Every political party in this country is shifting its position. They are still calling us racist and unrepresentative. We’re not going to take any lectures from somebody who recognises that the political ground is shifting away from them. We will shift the political ground here.
“The working-class people of Dublin and of Ireland have told the Paul Murphys and Ruth Coppingers and the rest of them that they no longer represent us. This is the first grass roots movement that is growing from the ground up. We have no leaders and we have no formal structures, and they just can’t understand why, after lecturing us for years, we aren’t saying ‘ah shur, carry on lads’,” said Mr Steenson.
He was then critical of Unite trade union’s Brendan Ogle, saying that in a recent radio interview he said he thinks protestors need to be re-educated. “We are the people doing the re-education. He is the one that needs to be re-educated, along with Unite and Siptu and all the other trade unions in this country,” he said.
A man commented from the crowd that Sinn Féin at one stage did have the working-class people behind them. “Now they have f**k all,” he shouted.
In the crowds there were banners showing anti-Sinn Féin sentiment, with one poster of Mary Lou McDonald with the word ‘Traitor’ written on top.
Outside the offices of the Irish Times, Finglas man Gavin Pepper told the crowd that protestors are “sick of being called racists, and sick of being called liars”.
“We’re out for our kids and our families. We’re out for the safety of our kids,” he said.
He branded politicians Paul Murphy, Leo Varadkar, Micheál Martin, Mary Lou McDonald, and “everybody in the Dail”, and socialist Ruth Coppinger as “frauds”.
Another speaker, a man named Martin from Cabra, said he had “no bother with these people coming in, but why should they get housing above ours?”
“They should go through the same process we do, because they’re no better than us and we’re no better than them,” he added.
Meanwhile, outside the GPO on O’Connell street around 400 people gathered for a Stand Against Racism protest in solidarity with asylum seekers.
Local communities, minority groups, elected representatives and activists spoke about the need for solidarity with refugees against a rise in hate spreading online.
Signs and banners reading, “refugees welcome” lined O’Connell Street as the crowd gathered around lunchtime to counter the anti-immigration refugees outside Connelly Station.
Memet Uludag, chair of United Against Racism, said vulnerable refugees are fleeing war, oppression and are facing “serious problems” in Ireland.
“Between housing, health, education, to all sorts of cost-of-living economic problems, none of this racism and pointing fingers are going to solve these problems,” he said.
Mr Uludag said the housing crisis “predates the refugees, the idea that refugees have caused the housing crisis is not the case”.
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, who attended the event, condemned recent assaults against refugees.
“What has happened in the last week alone is horrifying,” he said.
“It is one week since there was an attack on homeless people at a camp in Ashtown, purely because they are not from this county.”
He added that videos circulating online of threats against migrants are “tragic” and a combination of alienation and neglect of working-class communities and the worsening housing crisis has created a division which the far-right is “feeding off”.