So, after all their online bluster and hype yesterday saw a pitiful turn out from PEGIDA, while their scattered far-right sympathizers were forced to cower in the side streets of our capital.
When it came down to it pathetic PEGIDA were nowhere to be seen at the GPO. While, on the other hand, buses came from as far away as Cork in a broad coalition that celebrated diversity and was determined nip in the bud any chance of Islamophobia or racism gaining an organised street presence in Ireland.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition that organised the rally, ENAR’s Shane O’Curry summed it up well:
“This broad, nonviolent, festive and enthusiastic turnout demonstrated very loudly that there is no appetite in Ireland for the politics of Islamaphobia and bigotry. It was fitting, on this day of anti-racist mobilisations across Europe, that the GPO was held as a space for the politics of inclusion and hope and against the politics of division, violence and fear.”
Our photographers managed to spot some PEGIDA supporters hanging around on Abbey Street and asked them if the event was cancelled as they left the area.
Their erstwhile leader, Peter O’Loughlin never even made it into the demo, no doubt ending up the victim of his new found notoriety and some fellow public transport users with little toleration for racists on the Luas.
Contrast this dismally damp squib with the couple of thousand people who stood proud at the GPO.
In the end a group of about 15 eastern European fascists on Cathedral St were spotted sniffing around a couple of Gardai for protection, while they were in the process of a street-crime arrest.
They explained to our reporters that they were out to counter “illegal Communism” and then began to aggressively shove our cameras.
Above: Some of the gang of PEGIDA sympathizers our reporters came across loitering in a side street. Here’s footage of the same group being stopped making their way to the GPO.
At this point, a large crowd from the counter demo had arrived. The PEGIDA lot realised the game was up and legged it down Talbot St winning the 100 metre dash.
Some off them broke off and made it to Marlborough St, seeking refuge in the EuroWorld, hiding themselves among the Saturday afternoon bargain hunters.
By now the Public Order Unit arrived with their dogs. Scenes reminiscent of Rossport came to the city centre with Gardai wildly swinging batons, and little shit given about who they hit – journalists included.
It’s mainstream news that an RTE cameraman was whacked dangerously across his lower body while carrying a weighty ENG camera. The state broadcaster is lodging a formal complaint. The Irish Times came close too.
In the end, the Gardai cordoned off Talbot St, shielding the fascists from the growing crowds coming from the counter demo. When word got around that four of the fascists were hiding in Brannigan’s pub, another Gardai blockade was placed around the pub for their protection.
They were escorted out in handcuffs a few hours later.
No doubt the commentary sections of various outlets will be consumed by hackneyed flame wars about peaceful protests and competing rights to free speech. No better time so, to consider the words of Max Levitas, a 100 year old Jewish Dubliner and a veteran of the battle of Cable St:
“Ireland’s trade union and labour movement, and all Irish people should take a stand against the fascist Pegida organization and its allies. Down the years, the Irish have left their native shore to find a better life elsewhere and we should not deny to others what was good for ourselves. I was born and raised in Dublin. My parents met and married there, all the way from Latvia and Lithuania. It’s a place for all Irish, regardless of race and religion. Let’s keep it that way and say no to PEGIDA.”
Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. If history lessons aren’t your thing, then cast an eye further afield to yesterday’s attack on a refugee solidarity centre in Prague.
A clear illustration of what can go wrong if far-right gangs are allowed roam the streets unchecked.
Read our account of the far-right in Ireland here.