Saturday, January 21, 2023

Hundreds attended anti-immigration protests and pro-refugee counter rallies across Dublin on Saturday afternoon.

At St Stephen’s Green, a solidarity rally organised by Le Chéile — a broad-base campaign promoting diversity in Irish society and tackling the far-right — chanted various messages of support for migrants and asylum-seekers.

Protestors carrying placards with various anti-immigration slogans gathered on the other side of the road, in front of the Shelbourne Hotel, part of a so-called ‘Dublin Says No’ rally.

People Before Profit member Owen McCormack, from Balbriggan, who was part of the counter rally, told The Irish Times that “targeting refugees is not a solution”.

“We acknowledge that we face multiple crises in housing and health but directing that anger towards refugees is counterproductive,” he said.

“We also think we represent the vast majority of ordinary people in Ireland who are opposed to racism,” he said. “People do not like the way in which refugee centres have been targeted and the way false stories are being spread on social media, that these people are a major risk.”

Gavin Pepper, from Finglas, told The Irish Times that he was not far-right, and that migrants were being placed in working-class areas, and not the likes of Dalkey or Killiney.

“They’re saying there’s no housing and 200 modular homes are being built in Cavan for people from Ukraine. I support people coming from Ukraine, from the war, but people from Albania and Georgia are not fleeing war.

“Most people here are residents with kids, obviously there’s a couple of people affiliated with the National Party or whatever, and they’ve their own views but this is a democracy, I’m allowed have my own views. I’m not going to be drowned out, they can have their say and I can have mine,” he said

Attendees of the anti-immigration rally eventually left the Stephen’s Green area, marching on to the Mansion House and the GPO.

Welcome rallies were also held in Drimnagh and Clondalkin, calling for an end to hatred and racism.

People Before Profit Councillor Hazel De Nortúin said that problems with accommodation are not the fault of people arriving here.

“We need to bridge that gap and just say to people, those seeking asylum have a welcome in our community, they are valuable in our community.

“[It’s] just to show that there are people who are willing to work with them and who see that they can provide value… in communities.”

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