Upwards of 1,000 people gathered at the Jim Larkin statue on Dublin’s O’Connell Street on Monday in a “rally of solidarity and support” for migrants, and all workers who face abuse from far right activists in the city.
Organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), the rally was told last Thursday’s attack on children and their carers in the city’s Parnell Square was an act of senseless violence.
The rally also heard that the violent scenes in the city after the attack represented a failed attempt by the politically far right to intimidate, scapegoat immigrants and divide Dubliners.
The rally was attended by a number of groups representing individual unions, including transport workers’ and teachers’ organisations, migrants rights supporters and campaign groups including Pavee Point and the LGBT group Belong To.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe was also in the crowd, as was the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.
ICTU general secretary Owen Reidy said last Thursday’s events were “an attack on our community and our community are the people who live and work in this city ... whether they were born in this country, or whether they were born in the four corners of this globe, they are part of our community. We are one and we are for an Ireland for all”.
He said the Thursday’s attackers “do not represent what we stand for”, and paid tribute to Dublin Fire Brigade and other emergency services who were the focus of much of the rioters’ attention. Drawing attention to a Dublin Fire Brigade engine and crew attending the rally, he said “these are the people who run into dangerous situations for us. Thank you so much for what you do to protect us”.
He also paid tribute to transport workers, Luas drivers and local authority workers who, he said, were often at risk of violence when they went to work. “They should be able to do that in a safe environment”, he said.
Carol McSherry, a school special needs assistant, told the crowd she was there to express solidarity. “Dublin last Thursday was not the real Dublin” she said, urging the crowd to “love not hate”.
A bus driver, Cristopher Tei said “the city is becoming a harder place” for transport workers. He said he was born in Romania and has lived in Ireland for 17 years, and is now an Irish citizen. “I am Irish and proud,” he said. He recalled how colleagues had been attacked because of the colour of their skin. “That is not acceptable,” he said.
Phil Ní Sheadhgha, general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association said the rally was organised to “reject what happened in our capital city last weekend”.
She said the health service was dependent on migrant workers. “We work with migrant workers every single day, and they’re an integral part of our healthcare delivery, whether it’s midwives delivering our next generation, right up to end of life care,” she said.