Sinn Féin denies 'fascist behaviour' at Dublin march
Sinn Féin has denied its members were involved in what the president of Siptu has called “fascist behaviour” at an anti-austerity march in Dublin.
Jack O’Connor blamed members of Sinn Féin and the United Left Alliance for heckling Eugene McGlone, the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, as he started a speech to demonstrators on Saturday. He said it was orchestrated activity that bore “all the hallmarks of fascism”.
Larry O’Toole, a Sinn Féin councillor on Dublin City Council, said the party was not involved in the heckling, “nor does the party condone such activity”.
A spokeswoman for Sinn Féin said the party supported the march and a number of its members had attended it.
Bríd Smith, a Dublin councillor with People Before Profit, said as one of the organisers of the march she stepped in to stop the heckling, which she said was not orchestrated. “It was a spontaneous outburst of anger at the inaction of union leaders,” she said.
Mr O’Connor said protesters carrying Sinn Féin and United Left Alliance posters had placed themselves “strategically close” to the platform where Mr McGlone was speaking before heckling him.
He said he would ask the leadership of Ictu to approach Sinn Féin and the United Left Alliance on the matter. “The behaviour is entirely at odds with the traditions and values of the trade union movement, those who hold republican views and those on the left,” he said.
Using the term “fascist” to describe the heckling was not going too far if the activity was orchestrated, he said. “It is a potentially dangerous development and it is not an isolated development,” he added.
Ms Smith said Mr O’Connor’s comments were motivated by “narrow political party considerations” since he is a Labour Party member.
“I call on all the forces that organised this demonstration to stay united and not be deliberately divided by people who appear to be working as agents of the Labour Party,” she said.
Mr McGlone had dealt with the situation “in a good-humoured fashion and changed his speech to explain to the crowd how they might go about seeking a general stoppage”, she added.
Mr O’Toole said people were frustrated with the trade union movement because of its support for the Labour Party, “which is implementing the brutal austerity policies affecting working families”.