Anti-racist rally in support of asylum seekers in Ireland gets ugly

Roosky Confrontation anti-racism, Ireland
Bryan Wall

On 17 February, an anti-racist rally took place in Roosky, Co Roscommon. Leitrim and Roscommon United against Racism organised the rally. The group was responding to a suspected arson attack on a proposed direct provision centre in the village on 4 February. On its Facebook page the group said it wanted asylum seekers to know “they will be safe and welcomed.”

Roughly 30 people attended the rally in the village.

Tensions

At one stage an argument broke out between an apparently local woman and a number of the activists. She told those attending to “show me proof” of an arson attack. She also accused one of the protesters of being a “troublemaker”.

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In another video she tells people “There is nothing in Roosky” in terms of services for asylum seekers. Furthermore, she said, “We are not racist”.

One group that attended the rally was the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI). Earlier it told The Canary that whoever attacked the proposed direct provision centre is “full of hate”. It also said that asylum seekers are now afraid that occupied direct provision centres will be targeted.

Political support

A number of Irish politicians voiced their “solidarity” and “support” for the rally in a press release posted online. MEP Lynn Boylan said the rally was “an opportunity to show solidarity for asylum seekers”. She also stated:

There can be no place for racism in Ireland. As a nation we are so much better than that and we can not allow a small minority of people whip up fear, hatred and division.

Similarly, Martin Kenny, a member of the Irish parliament, said anti-immigrant views are “about getting people into the trap of hating the other, for no reason other than hatred.” Kenny also said the Irish understand why people seek asylum. He said:

As a nation who suffered the terror of war due to imperial domination and had our people scattered across the world, we understand and support the need to give refuge, protection and the chance of freedom to other people, who are now suffering the terror of war.

For him, this means:

We must never give way to hating, because hating is a trap that destroys life and freedom itself.

Presence of the Irish far right

Also at the rally was well-known Irish far-right activist, Rowan Croft. At one point protesters surrounded him and chanted “Nazi scum off our streets”. He was also called a “fascist” by one of the protesters.

Croft recently met Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Lega party. Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, has previously said he fears an “invasion” of immigrants.

Salvini has also said:

For me, the problem is the thousands of illegal immigrants stealing, raping and dealing drugs.

Croft also has a YouTube channel where he goes under the name Grand Torino. He has used the channel to host interviews with figures from the international far right.

Featured Image via Eoghan Murphy/Twitter

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