ANTI-FASCISM, HOUSING AND REFUGEES

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 5 mins.)

Refugees living in tents on streets in Dublin were targeted last week by fascists and antifascists have confronted the latter in defence. Shelters of refugees have been torched.

There’s been some anti-immigrant discourse in Ireland, especially promoted by fascists and racists for a few years but it really took off during the Government’s handling of the Ukrainian refugee influx.

The Irish Government for pro-NATO reasons prioritised these over other refugees, also placing the Ukrainians in empty buildings in working class areas already low on social infrastructure and without consultation with the local community, some of whom reacted angrily.

The Irish Government handed the fascists and other racists a great opportunity and they grasped it.

After that issue had died down a bit, the fascists were looking for something to take its place and found it again in other refugees, this time those who were NOT being housed by the Government and were instead living in tents on streets around the IPO office in Mount Street.

Refugee tents near the International Protection Office (left of photo) in Dublin recently (credit Sasko LazarovRollingNews.ie)

The International Protection Office was supposed to organise to provide for the basic needs of refugees – in fact are legally obliged to – while their cases were being processed and had been failing to do so, hence the people it had failed living in tents around the area.

FASCISTS GO TO ATTACK THE REFUGEES

The refugees got some sympathetic coverage in articles in the Cork Examiner and Irish Times1. Perhaps it was this that stirred up well-known fascist Phillip Dwyer (known hater of women, migrants, LGBT and Muslims) to go and attack those people living on the street.

On Thursday 11th Dwyer turned up with his “security” people, i.e fascist goons, thinking to run the refugees out of there and perhaps do worse. But he was met with resistance including some people helping the refugees, two of the goons got hurt and they backed off.

According to a statement on Revolutionary Housing Action’s Twitter account, one of the defenders was ambushed when he went to collect his bike and while fighting them off, they threw a bike at him. Dwyer and his fascist hounds promised to be back.

Streetlink homeless service stated that on Friday, they were threatened and their outreach van pummelled while they packed refugee belongings and then boxed in so they had to suspend their outreach service for that evening, handing on outreach contacts to other services.

On Friday 12th Dwyer was back with a larger mob but met by a broad group of antifascists, including RHL, AIA, PBP, CATU, CYM, DCAR and independent antifascist activists2 (AIA statement onTwitter, Saturday 13 May). Dublin Republicans Against Fascism were there too.

Section of antifascists in the foreground on Friday, police in the middle distance and fascists and the curious beyond. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

The violence against persons was now turned on the pitiful shelters and belongings which, on Friday night were set on fire.

On Saturday 13th, the fascist Irish Freedom Party held their rally on Custom House Quay against hate speech legislation being considered by the Government. From there they marched, not against the Government but against the homeless refugees.

According to local sources, the fascists distributed leaflets asking people to be electoral candidates and promising to help the inexperienced.

What was the connection between a protest allegedly about ‘free speech’ and a march on homeless refugees? Absolutely none, except the standard fascist agenda of targeting minorities to divide the working people and scream about free speech while using violence against their targets.

But in a cunning move, the NP who have never helped any area, were there afterwards cleaning up the area and placing flowerpots there.

Meanwhile, on Thursday night, the Revolutionary Housing League stated that they had opened one of the many empty buildings in Dublin to house the targeted refugees. The RHL have been opening up empty buildings for over a year now and encouraging others to do so.

Subsequently, Leo Varadkar, of the very Government that set up the conditions for this to happen, declared how unacceptable the attack on the refugees was. And following strong criticism from the Refugee Council, the State suddenly found it could house most of the refugees.

If true, hopefully good for those refugees but the fascists will now bleat about how “foreigners are getting treated better than the Irish” to the gullible and, also among themselves, be commenting that violence brings results.

The fascists have been stirring up local community fears with allegations that some of the refugees are paedophiles on the run from justice in their own countries, for which there is not a shred of evidence.

Ironically, while they attacked LGBT people as “paedophiles” some of the far-right have for decades been defending the Catholic Church hierarchy in Ireland from criticism and accusations of abuse of children and women in their institutions.

Lies spill from fascist lips as a matter of course: “immigrants are rapists and paedophiles, LGBT people are paedophiles, migrants are rapists, migrants are being treated better than the natives, the whites are being replaced by people of colour, muslims are taking over”, etc, etc.

THE GARDAÍ AND THE FASCISTS

The Gardaí, including the Public Order Unit, stood between the antifascists and the fascist-led mob on Friday, then kettled the antifascists for awhile, then followed the antifascist contingent up Pearse Street with fascists tailing along. When the antifascists dispersed, some of them were attacked.

The Irish Times on Monday 15th reported on a complaint from the Garda Representative Association that they are unable to police these events, don’t know about refugees, need training, etc.3

What is there to know? Refugees are as entitled as anyone else to be kept free from violence and the Gardaí could have arrested a number of fascists, had they wanted to, under the Public Order Act, which they regularly use against left-wing protests.

In September 2020, when unarmed antifascists went to counter-protest a Yellow Vest4 rally against masking5 and were attacked by masked (!) thugs recruited by the National Party with wooden and metal clubs, the POU understood enough to draw batons and attack – the antifascists!

Scene on Butt Bridge in September 2020 after armed fascists had attacked the unarmed counter-protesters at Custom House Quay and then the Public Order Unit had attacked them also, pushing them back off the Quay with raised batons, threatening to strike. (Photo: Dublin Republicans Against Fascism)

The following week, the Gardaí allowed NP fascists in Kildare Street to jostle and threaten a handful of LGBT campaigners and to club one of them to the ground. The Gardaí then ordered the woman, blood streaming from her head, to leave.

On both occasions the Garda press office issued statements saying that there had been no serious incidents. But the videos of the woman being assaulted and then ordered away went wide on social media and within a few hours, the Gardaí had changed their story.

In September 2020, longtime fascist and member of the National Party Michael Quinn (left, carrying wooden club disguised as Irish Tricolour flag) attacked veteran LGBT campaigner Izzy Kamikaze while she observed fascists in Kildare Street. The Gardaí forced Izzy to leave and later told the media nothing of any note had occurred, later having to change their press statement after the circulation of video footage. Quinn was later convicted of the attack and jailed for two years. (Images sourced: Internet).

However, it was ‘up to the victim’ whether she made a complaint (for an armed attack in a public place seen on video?)! She did, and eventually the particular assailant, Michael Quinn of the NP, was jailed for two years.6 But for Gardaí collusion with fascists and lying to the press? Nothing.

WHAT NOW?

Given the wars instigated by US/NATO and EU around the world and deprivation by foreign exploitation of people’s natural resources, refugees and other migrants will continue coming to Europe, including Ireland.

The fascists will continue to target minorities and wave their fake patriotism and social concern while they recruit for their parties, diverting attention from the housing profiteers and the facilitating ruling class while they strive to drive wedges into the working people.

The local working class residents, for example in the block of flats overseeing the site of the conflict, will gain nothing except an undeserved bad reputation for what happened in their area and in which perhaps a few teenagers were opportunistically involved.

Already the recently-completed block of apartments just down the road from them is advertising one-bed apartments for 2,000 euro a month and two-beds for 3,000. None of the local working people of course will be renting those.

The cause of the housing crisis in Dublin will continue: property speculators, vulture funds and multi-unit landlords will continue to rake in profits because the Government won’t build housing for affordable rent in case it should compete with them.

Unless, that is, a real hard struggle including militant occupations and defiance of court orders is taken to them forcing a change, be it reform or revolution. This is a task for the Left which of course can never be carried out by fascists.

But hopefully many anti-fascists have learned or had reaffirmed the need for unity in a broad front against fascism and that confrontation and preparedness for physical defence against fascists is needed, while also discussing the most appropriate tactics for different situations.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/social-affairs/2023/05/04/homeless-asylum-seekers-its-hard-sleeping-outside-its-cold-its-wet-its-no-life/

2Including anarchists.

3https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/social-affairs/2023/05/15/gardai-have-sufficient-resources-to-stop-violence-against-refugees-harris-says/

4The Irish Yellow Vests were a right-wing populist organisation, led by Ben Gilroy and Glen Miller, fascists and islamophobes.

5The rally was on Custom House Quay, scene of the NP’s rally last Saturday.

6Man who used wooden post to strike a woman during an anti-lockdown rally is jailed (thejournal.ie

SOURCES

https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/social-affairs/2023/05/04/homeless-asylum-seekers-its-hard-sleeping-outside-its-cold-its-wet-its-no-life/

https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/social-affairs/2023/05/15/gardai-have-sufficient-resources-to-stop-violence-against-refugees-harris-says/

Man who used wooden post to strike a woman during an anti-lockdown rally is jailed (thejournal.ie)

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