RTÉ is to make a formal complaint today after one of its cameramen was injured during a clash between protesters and gardaí in Dublin city centre on Saturday.
Members of the Garda Public Order Unit intervened when anti-racism protesters clashed with members of far-right group Pegida.
The German-based anti-Islam organisation had announced that it would be launching an Irish wing outside the GPO at 3pm on Saturday. However, hundreds of anti-racism demonstrators staged a counter-rally on O’Connell Street at 1.30pm.
Scuffles broke out when a small party broke away from the main gathering of anti-Pegida demonstrators and chased another group, believed to be Pegida supporters, down North Earl Street and into a discount store.
Members of the Garda Public Order Unit, approaching from Talbot Street, baton charged protesters outside the shop back towards O’Connell Street and then set up a cordon in the middle of North Earl Street.
An RTÉ spokeswoman said it would make a formal complaint after a senior staff cameraman was injured by a garda baton. Laura Fitzgerald said: “one of our cameramen was injured while working covering a demonstration and he was injured by a garda”.
Identity Ireland chairman Peter O'Loughlin said he was hospitalised after he was attacked by a group of about 20 men while he was taking the Luas to the Pegida launch.
Mr O’Loughlin, a general election candidate who supports Pegida, said he and about five others were making their way to O’Connell Street when a group of men dressed in black boarded the tram somewhere around the Four Courts.
“One of them hit me on the head with a blunt object,” he said, adding that he was then brought by ambulance to the Mater hospital. “I had to get around seven or eight stitches.”
Mr O’Loughlin said about 150 Pegida supporters had been in the vicinity of the GPO waiting for the start of the eventually aborted launch.
“We’re not going to stop what we’re doing, that’s for sure,” he said. “We have to discuss what we’re going to do but we’re not going to be intimidated by this.”
O’Connell Street was closed to traffic in both directions between Abbey Street and Cathal Brugha Street while Cathedral Street was cordoned off by public order, mounted and canine garda units. Gardaí directed Luas to suspend services from Smithfield to the city centre.
Many individuals as well as representatives from groups such as Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the
Workers Solidarity Movement
and Irish Muslim organisations had assembled close to the Spire to demonstrate against Pegida.
AAA election candidate Michael O’Brien said the people had come out to resist Pegida and stop it getting off the ground. “We’ve seen on the European continent and Britain what a menace the far right is to migrants and also to trade unions and social activists,” he said.
Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan said "we are standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity to show that there is no place in Ireland today for racism and Islamophobia. There is no place for hate."
Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe condemned the violence at the demonstration but said the vast majority of attendees were there to peacefully express their solidarity with immigrants.
"We condemn the ugly scenes at yesterday's protests. We also call on the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to investigate reports that an RTÉ cameraman was injured by a Garda in yesterday's disturbances," he said.