CORK REBELS FOR PEACE COUNTER FAR-RIGHT RALLY

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 3 minutes)

“THERE ARE MORE OF US THAN THERE ARE OF THE BULLIES”

Learning of the intention of a far-Right coalition to hold a rally at Cork Town Hall on 4th December, a coalition of anti-racists and anti-fascists containing a range of Left and Irish Republican organisations, community and anti-deportation groups organised a counter-rally which dwarfed the numbers of the racists and fascists, who object to migrants, asylum seekers and LBGT people. Two TDs and a number of councillors also attended.

One of the organisers, Tracy Ryan, said that she had her two sons with her at the rally. “I’ve brought up my children to believe that everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same opportunities and chances in life,” she said.

View of counter rally half hour before due to start
(Photo: Students Against Racism)
Placard displayed at counter-rally
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Anti-racist football club supporters at the counter-rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

FREE SPEECH?

The specific rallying issue for the far-Right on this occasion, as it was in Dublin on 14th December last year (see https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2019/12/15/dublin-counter-rally-outnumbers-racists-and-fascists/), was the legislation proposed by the Fine Gael Government against “hate speech”. The mixture of social conservatives, racists and fascists that make up the far-Right in Ireland have been complaining for some time that they are being denied freedom of speech, in particular since the most prominent member of their ranks, ex-journalist Gemma O’Doherty, had her two Youtube channels shut down by Google in 2019 after, according to Google, she broadcast racist statements and continued to do so after one of the channels was suspended for a week.

There is a wide variety of views on the proposed legislation outside of the far-Right, some socialists and Republicans remarking that “hate speech” is too wide a label and that they have seen such legislation used against themselves when they denounce prominent politicians or businessmen, the police or Loyalists. What unites all these groups demonstrating against the far-Right is not a defence of the Government’s proposed legislation but a determined opposition to allowing the far-Right to gain a foothold in Ireland, from which it may expand to introduce a fascist regime, reversing gains in social legislation, banning oppositional groups, terrorising minorities and restricting further the rights of unionised workers.

One of the groups on the counter-rally
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
One of the many pointed placards on the counter-rally held by a supporter.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

Opponents of the far-Right point out that they begin by seeking freedom of speech to attack minority groups and their political opponents but once they have established a base, move to physically removing their opposition and banning freedom of speech of anyone who disagrees with them.

“There are more of us than there are of the bullies”, said one of the organising group, speaking to news media the day before the counter-rally. Poet and community worker Kathy D’Arcy added: “We are one people, one human race, one unified city whose people are known throughout the world for kindness, friendliness, good humour and inclusiveness.”

Declan Power of Waterford, organiser of a much smaller rally of the far-Right over the same weekend, rejected the accusation that they were racists or had any other agenda than freedom of speech. However at the event Diarmuid Ó Cadhla, of a group called The People’s Convention, revealed that he wanted to limit migration and was against the Government’s policies which, he alleged, are for “globalisation and open borders”. Presumably this was a reference to one of the conspiracy theories of the far-Right, viz. that the EU allegedly has a policy of opening all borders to mass immigration and replacing the Irish with foreigners. Laughable as this may seem to some and flying against all the evidence as it does, it is believed by some on the far-Right and used to whip up fears and hatred of migrants.

View of far-Right rally over section of counter-rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian
Closeup of some of the far-Right group in Cork (Photo: Shamim Melekian)

Woman on counter-rally holds up a placard addressing the far-Right
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

HISTORY OF ANTI-RACIST MARCHES IN CORK

          The rally on 4th January this year was far from being the first anti-racist demonstration in Cork: an anti-racist march took place in March last year and or five years before that, there had been an anti-racist march in Cork every year.

Speaking in advance of the anti-racist march last year, Joe Moore of Cork Says No to Racism pointed out that while racism still exists in Cork, it is “a small number of people who have racist views towards minority religions, asylum seekers Travellers and the Roma community.”

Mr. Moore also pointed out some gaps in State provision, stating that the school books for children contain no mention of the Traveller community in Ireland, which itself has housing and education issues.

There is also a history of fascism in 1930s Cork when the Blueshirt fascist movement was opposed by anti-fascists and socialists inside and outside the IRA. Ironically, while opposition to the Fine Gael Government’s proposed legislation is the purported rallying point for the far-Right, the Blueshirts were one of the three groups that joined to form the Fine Gael party (which is why many opponents of the party call them “Blueshirts” to this day).

Fascist salutes at a Blueshirt rally in 1934 in Charleville, Cork.
(Photo source: History Ireland).

End.

SOURCES & REFERENCES:

Quotation from Kathy D’Arcy: https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/Rally-for-peace-to-take-place-outside-City-Hall-tomorrow-775f0af9-1083-47b3-9920-48a20ec234ac-ds

Irish Times report: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/cork-rejects-politics-of-hate-from-far-right-groups-rally-hears-1.4131626?

Cork Echo report: https://www.echolive.ie/corklives/New-anti-racism-group-takes-to-streets-of-Cork-2cf76e9c-e240-4653-b2a5-084c8d31d57d-ds?fbclid=IwAR1yfgu5qcL-71qJQMk1jzt-NhtbBmJ4VW9hYm1DMQwGKdD9nunl3Ju-O40

Previous anti-racist marches in Cork: https://www.corkindependent.com/news/topics/articles/2019/03/20/4171273-antiracism-rally-planned/

Blueshirt fascist movement with reference to Cork:

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/eoin-oduffys-blueshirts-and-the-abyssinian-crisis/

https://www.theirishstory.com/2012/05/18/the-blueshirts-fascism-in-ireland/#.XhTtZSOLRsM

Counter-rally supporter mocks conspiracy theory that Soros Foundation is funding all the anti-racist and anti-fascist activists.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Another pointed placard message on the counter-rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Woman on counter-rally displaying presumably dire conditions on halting sites for Travellers.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

 

Women of varied ages and backgrounds applauding speaker at counter rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Counter rally supporter sends pointed message on placard
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Young supporter of counter rally sports a T-Shirt display which might become very popular.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Section of counter rally on the march through Cork city centre.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

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