Date: 25/02/2017
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Fascistic thuggery on the streets of Dublin

Pegida Ireland’s inaugural demonstration, outside the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare, was planned for today. There is little to be found in the way of dissenting Irish opinion toward the recent Muslim migrations into Europe, where a large highly vocal set frequently march in various cities in support of Islamic causes, with many demonstrations in recent months favouring Muslim migration, and indeed a large anti-Pegida protest gathered on the same street an hour and a half before the planned Pegida event, which appears to have prevented the later rally from going ahead. Suspected Pegida supporters were subjected to sustained attempts of assault by a segment of the pro-Islam protest. 

These full-blooded attacks appear to have been to some extent planned, given the large number of anti-Pegida rioters involved at several locations. Jim O’Connell, one of the protest attendees (a leading member of the People Before Profit party), stated before the demonstration that Pegida’s Irish presence must be “stamped out”. Subsequently Michael O’Brien, of a related leftist group (Anti-Austerity Alliance) said the protesters had come out to prevent Pegida establishing itself. Little wonder then that a significant number of protesters thought that bystanders are fair game for assault.

Predictably RTE, Ireland’s public service broadcaster, white-washed the incident. The news-slot (on the broadcaster’s ‘6.1 News’ and Nine News shows) only featured video of anti-Pegida protesters and their messages, which is an oddity given that there have been very many demonstrations in recent months favouring Muslim migration, a phenomenon not exclusive to Dublin either! It may be assumed that the newsroom editors did not wish to display messages that may be offensive to some sensibilities. 

The opening headlines to the show initially described the riot as a clash between protesters: “And chaotic scenes at anti-Islam rally in Dublin City Centre as scuffles break out between rival protesters”, whilst placing greater importance on the opinions of the Arch-Bishop of Dublin concerning a gangland murder the day previously, at the beginning and very end of the news broadcast.

Only latterly would the viewer find out that the violent incident was as a result of one party wilfully attacking the other. In the introduction to the 6.1 News segment, the presenter states: “There were chaotic scenes in Dublin City Centre this afternoon as the far-right group Pegida attempted to hold a rally on O’Connell Street. Clashes involving Gardai [Irish police] broke out after opponents of the anti-Islamic group pursued men they believed to be members of Pegida”. 

RTE’s ‘News Now’ channel described the incident as a clash between Gardai and anti-Pegida protestors. Such descriptions mischaracterise the nature of the riot and its intent. Efforts to conceal could well have been intentional due to the RTE’s longstanding pro-Migrant stance. RTE also failed to identify the groupings forming the anti-Pegida coalition. They constitute newly resurgent leftist groups (Socialist Workers Party/Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit), which supported prior riots in Dublin. Notably, the protest was replete with Palestinian flags and keffiyeh, and indeed anti-Israel demagogue Ronit Lentin is a leading figure involved with the organisation of the anti-Pegida protest.

Perhaps the first anti-Islamist protest occurred in Ireland last year, outside a Dublin Mosque noted for having links with the Muslim Brotherhood. A small group called "Anti-Islam Ireland" was intimidated by a much larger group of pro-migrant/Islam protesters. They were pressured to abandon their protest, and obtained police escort when leaving the site.

It seems an irony that the protesters, so ready to attack those they disagree with, are the same people who claim their opponents are intolerant Islamophobes. They are largely of the same grouping as those who have routinely behaved in an intimidating and violent fashion during the recent water charge protests, most notably perhaps when effectively imprisoning the deputy prime minister (Tanaiste), but cry foul when they are brought to book, claiming their civil rights are being curtailed! Heretofore, violent protest was a relatively uncommon phenomenon in the Republic of Ireland.

Whether one agrees with the credo of Pegida or not, and/or has well-founded reservations about the character of its leadership, such violent intolerance, especially to peripheral viewpoints, marks a grave attempt to curtail a basic civil right, as well as silence debate and discussion, on a substantive issue confronting all Europeans.

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