Violent clashes between protesters and Gardaí caused havoc on O’Connell Street last Saturday, as thousands of anti-racist demonstrators stopped an anti-Islam group called Pegida from rallying.
The first Irish branch of the right-wing Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident) was supposed to hold its opening rally at 3pm outside the GPO. They were met by thousands of protesters from multiple organisations that condemn racism.
Pegida promotes anti-Islam politics and restrictive immigration regulations, for Muslims in particular.
The majority of scuffles occurred on Cathedral Street, which was cordoned off by armed Gardaí. Pegida supporters were believed to be congregating in a bar called Brannigans.
The bartender said: “Someone robbed a handbag earlier on and a gang followed him and caught him. The Gardaí arrested him and took him away, then about 20 minutes later they just starting gathering and it escalated after that. There was only Welsh supporters in my pub.”
Peter O’Loughlin a supporter of Pegida and member of Identity Ireland, was assaulted on his way to the rally. He was hit with a blunt object on the Luas and had to be hospitalised, according to RTÉ.
A group called The Anti-Racism Network organised the protest for 1.30pm at the GPO, at the same place and an hour and a half before Pegida’s rally.
Tensions were high after a group of Pegida members were spotted on North Earl Street, where the crowd were told to “stay here and don’t let them take the GPO”. Organisers reminded protesters several times throughout that it was peaceful and a show of strength to all minorities in Ireland.
These events were pre-supposed by speeches from several organisations. Neltah Chadamoyo spoke for the Africa Centre, who are a voice for the African immigrant community in Ireland.
She said, “When I dream of Ireland I see great things happening, it allows me to want to do more, to do better, to grow. I am not afraid to dream because I’m in Ireland. Because a few of us, that look like us, who come from where we come from: do bad things, it doesn’t make us all bad.”
“One country, one love” and “Whose streets? Our streets” were chanted at the demonstration as well as “Who lives here belongs here”.