Tense scenes as rival protests are held at Google HQ in Dublin

Anti-racism campaigners call for stronger action against hate speech online

Anti-racism campaigners confront rival protesters outside Google headquarters in Dublin.

 

Gardaí kept rival protesters apart at a demonstration outside Google headquarters in Dublin on Saturday.

Anti-racism campaigners staged a Say No To Hate rally outside Irishtown Garda station which moved to Barrow Street during the afternoon.

Outside Irishtown garda station, protesters said gardaí had not done enough to combat the rise of online racism. They were also critical of the direct provision system.

About 200 protesters moved on to Google’s headquarters in Barrow Street where there were calls for technology companies to strengthen measures against online hate speech.

There was a brief confrontation after they arrived with approximately 40 demonstrators - some carrying Tricolours - staging an alternative protest in the same location. Members of the rival demonstration sang “You’ll never beat the Irish” and The Fields of Athenry. A line of gardaí kept the two sides apart.

Rival protesters confront each other outside Google’s HQ in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times
Rival protesters confront each other outside Google’s HQ in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Among the speakers at the anti-racism demonstration was Green Party councillor Hazel Chu who has been targeted in recent days because of her Chinese background.

Cllr Chu said she had been subjected to hate email and six phonecalls “with heavy breathing” on Friday alone.

“People have been telling me that I should go back to my own country, that I’m not Irish and that I’m not fit to be in politics,” she said.

“They have been questioning everything from my nationality to my mandate and it’s been going on for the last few days. There was a lot of online hate. People think because something is online that they can say anything.”

An anti-hate speech protester outside Google’s HQ on Barrow Street, Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Tom Honan/The IrishTimes
An anti-hate speech protester outside Google’s HQ on Barrow Street, Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Tom Honan/The IrishTimes

Cllr Chu, who was born in Ireland to Chinese parents in the 1970s, said she had experienced racism in every decade, but “it has never been so gathered. What we have found in the last four weeks is there has been a lot of momentum going on with the various groups who are discriminating against others”.

Despite the abuse, Cllr Chu said she was not tempted to leave social media or take her mobile number off the internet.

“When you hide, they will still come at us in a different way. I don’t see why in 2019 anyone should hide from any of these challenges.”