Three arrests after anti-racism, free speech protests in Dublin

Arrests followed scuffles between two protest groups which were separated by gardaí

Scuffles broke out as people took part in two rallies outside the Dáil. A protest against new hate speech laws had been organised originally and then a counter demonstration was then organised by unions and anti-racism groups. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Three people were arrested during rival demonstrations by anti-racism and free speech groups in Dublin on Saturday.

The arrests followed minor scuffles between the two protest groups which were then separated by a large force of gardaí.

Two men and one woman were arrested. One of the males, a teenager, and the woman were questioned and then received an adult caution.

A second male in his forties has been charged with public order offences and is due to appear before court at a later date.

Gardaí sought to keep the two demonstrations apart. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Gardaí sought to keep the two demonstrations apart. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Several hundred people took part in the demonstrations outside Leinster House on Saturday afternoon.

One of the demonstrations was a protest against proposed new hate speech legislation and was organised by groups including the Irish Freedom Party and Yellow Vest Ireland.

Gardaí sought to keep the two demonstrations apart. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Gardaí sought to keep the two demonstrations apart. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Trades unions, faith groups and anti-racism organisations in turn organised a counter demonstration, the Solidarity Alliance against Racism and Fascism’s (SARF) rally.

Members of this group chanted: “Listen up and listen clear refugees are welcome here”.

A Department of Justice the consultation process on possible improvements to Ireland’s hate speech laws ended on Friday.

Opposing protests at the Dáil on ‘free speech’ and a counter demonstration. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Opposing protests at the Dáil on ‘free speech’ and a counter demonstration. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Government has indicated it intends to strengthen and expand the scope of existing hate-speech legislation, as “one element in a wider suite of measures across all areas of government which are designed to address hatred and intolerance”.

Some forms of hate speech are already a criminal offence in Ireland under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.

Opposing protests at the Dáil on ‘free speech’ and a counter demonstration. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Opposing protests at the Dáil on ‘free speech’ and a counter demonstration. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

While severe sanctions are available under the existing law there have been a handful of convictions.