Cork is an open, welcoming city that rejects the politics of hate fomented by far right groups under the guise of seeking to protect freedom of speech, a rally in Cork city was told over the weekend.
The rally organized by Cork Rebels for Peace outside Cork City Hall, heard a number of speakers strongly condemn a rival protest organised by individuals opposed to Government plans to introduce anti-hate legislation.
About 250 people attended the rally organised by the recently formed group, with several political parties represented alongside climate change activists, LGBT campaigners and pro-choice campaigners.
Sinn Féin, Labour, the Greens, the Workers Party, the Socialist Party, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats, the Connolly Youth Movement and the Irish Republican Socialist Party members were all prominent at the rally.
One of the organisers, Tracy Ryan, said it was important a clear message went out that Cork was a welcoming place which embraced diversity and did not tolerate discrimination.
“My two boys are with me here today. I’ve brought up my children to believe that everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same opportunities and chances in life,” Ms Ryan told the rally.
“What really makes me angry is when other grown-ups should have the cop-on not to be spreading their ugly racist, sexist, homophobic nonsense in front of my children but I want my boys to know these people are in the minority.”
Joe Moore of Anti-Deportation Ireland said they had two core demands – ending deportations and ending direct provision and while the other group "may look a pathetic lot, there are more sinister elements behind them."
"And if we allow these people to continue, it will put people coming here for protection at serious risk – we've seen where two potential direct provision centres in Rooskey in Roscommon and Moville in Donegal were fire bombed."
The rally for peace was attended by several public representatives including Cork North Central Solidarity TD, Mick Barry and Cork South Central Sinn Fein TD, Donncha O'Laoghaire.
Several councillors also showed their support, including Cllrs Henry Cremin and Kenneth Collins of Sinn Féin, Cllr John Maher of Labour, Cllr Fiona Ryan of Solidarity, Cllr Ted Tynan of the Workers Party and Cllr Lorna Bogue of the Greens.
A rival rally over the weekend, organised by Declan Power from Waterford, attracted a crowd of about 70, many of whom carried Irish Tricolours and Green and Gold Flags with the legend, Erin Go Bragh.
Mr Power said they were a collection of individuals who wanted to protect free speech and he strongly rejected the suggestion that the gathering was a front for right-wing groups.
“It’s just individual – it’s not partisan. We are here to promote the right to challenge opinions and ideas so it would promotion against the H (Hate) legislation (proposed by the Government),” he said.
Among those participating in this rally protest was former member of Cork County Council, Diarmuid O'Cadhla of the People's Convention who said he was deeply concerned that the Government's proposed legislation would curtail debate.
“I’m here to defend the right to free speech and why anyone should be opposed is really a matter of disbelief and I see what is going on in government and government has this consultation to take measures against hate speech
“But what they are really trying to do is push their own policy of globalism and open borders - what they don’t want is anyone to question it so I think it is quite within reason that Irish people should have a debate about migration.”