Anti-racism protest in vain


More than 100 anti-racism campaigners marched on a hotel in Maynooth, Co Kildare, last night to protest about a planned meeting by a group called Immigration Control Platform (ICP).

However, as demonstrators arrived at the Glenroyal Hotel chanting and waving banners, they were told by hotel staff that the meeting had never been booked by the ICP's spokeswoman, Ms Aine Ni Chonaill.

Details of last night's planned meeting had been published in the local Liffey Champion newspaper, but the hotel manager satisfied the protesters that the hotel would not have agreed to such an event being held there.

A spokesman for the hotel told The Irish Times: "Nobody informed us of a meeting, or of a protest march. Any meeting that is going to be controversial we would always have to consider very carefully."

Last night Ms Ni Chonaill said she knew nothing about the meeting. "I certainly did not place the notice [in the newspaper] and I'd be astonished if it could happen without my knowing. It must be someone's idea of a sick joke or someone trying to bring our organisation into disrepute."

She apologised to anyone who might have gone to the hotel last night expecting a public meeting held by her organisation.

Gardai were called to the hotel shortly before 9 p.m. as startled management attempted to disperse the large gathering. Members of the Anti-Nazi League and Anti-Racism Campaign claimed Ms Ni Chonaill had cancelled the meeting after hearing of their protest.

The crowd, which included African refugees as well as Socialist Worker Party activists, were then addressed through a loud hailer by Mr Gregor Kerr of the Anti-Racism Campaign.

"They [hotel staff] have told us that she has not booked a room here tonight and if she had it would not have been allowed. They have a number of immigrant workers in the hotel," Mr Kerr said. He told them that young Fine Gael in Trinity College was reported to have invited Ms Ni Chonaill to address it at a function on Friday night and that the protesters should also picket that event.

"We should give the message loud and clear to any people who might give a room to someone like this, that we will not tolerate someone of her views," he said. Mr Kerr said the demonstrators had turned out to voice their disgust at her views, which were stirring up racism in the country.

"Irish people have been economic immigrants for decades and now we are faced with a situation where a small number of people have come to this country and some politicians and elements of the media have turned people against refugees".