Anti-Immigration Demonstration Rocks Ireland

A demonstration against the establishment of a site for asylees rocked Newtownmountkennedy, County Wicklow, on Thursday night, following growing frustrations among Ireland’s anti-immigration activists.

The Demonstration:

Protests against the construction at the site known as Trudder House, or the River Lodge, have been ongoing for weeks after Ireland’s Department of Integration announced plans to establish 20 eight-person tents for international protection applicants in the small Irish town just south of Dublin.

The demonstration reportedly began after locals attempted to blockade the site, not allowing workers to begin construction. Authorities soon arrived on the scene, where tensions between the two would eventually escalate.

According to the Superintendent of the Garda, Ireland’s police force, Niall Kennedy, demonstrations against the construction turned violent around 19:00 local time when a number of locals and activists began throwing rocks and using other improvised weapons at authorities responding to the gathering, ultimately leading the Garda to deploy forced dispersion tactics with the use of batons and pepper spray.

Locals were seen tearing down fences around the building, with many carrying the Irish tricolor. Following authorities breaking up the demonstration, Gardai were seen clearing the area of citizens, with one video documenting an officer calling one local a “coward” before pepper spraying her while she was leaving.

Among attacks against authorities, demonstrators also started several fires across the site, damaging three Gardai vehicles, while an axe was seized by authorities during the dispersion. Demonstrators further threatened journalists, with a reporter from Sky News facing threats for recording with his cellphone while a Raidio Teilifis Eireann, an Irish public service broadcasting company, cameraman was forced to leave after he attempted to document the gathering.

The demonstration has received condemnation from a number of Irish political figures, with Taoiseach, the Irish prime minister, Simon Harris, stating in a speech in Wicklow that “You don’t protest in this country with an axe. You don’t engage in protest that involves fire, that involves burning things, that involves thuggery and that involves assaulting members of An Garda Síochána or their vehicles.”

Six arrests were made by authorities during the demonstration, four appeared in court on public offense charges Friday while another will be sent to trial at a later date. The sixth suspect, a minor, was released by authorities.

Suspects were allowed a 1,000 euro bail, however conditions were implemented in order to prevent further altercations with police. Among these conditions, the suspects were issued a curfew between 18:00 to 08:00, ordered to not approach Trudder House and its environs, alongside demands to not participate in protests in the region. Their case will be heard by the Irish court on May 9th.

Ireland’s Growing Immigration Concerns:

These demonstrations follow the infamous Dublin Riot in November when a number of locals took to the streets following a mass stabbing attack targeting three young children by an alleged immigrant.

Rioters in Dublin smashed store windows, lit police vehicles on fire, destroyed public transit vehicles, and clashed with police on the city’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street. 34 people were arrested in connection with the riot, while police guarded looted stores and patrolled the streets in the aftermath of the violence.


Rioters damaged a number of public infrastructure and Garda vehicles during the Dublin riots. (Photo – AP)

Police blamed far-right agitators for the riot after a small group of what they claimed to be anti-immigrant protesters arrived at the scene of the stabbing and clashed with police. It took authorities hours to quell the riot when youth joined, some of whom were shouting “get them out,” while one carried a sign that stated “Irish Lives Matter.” The crowd reportedly grew to an estimated 300 people. Police Commissioner Drew Harris stated that 13 shops were damaged or looted, 11 police cars were damaged or destroyed, along with three buses and a tram, and one officer was seriously injured.

The riot was met with widespread criticism from both activists and political figures alike, with many stating that while demonstrations against government policies are protected by the Irish constitution, attacks against authorities and reported looting cannot be tolerated with those aligned with anti-immigration policies stating that looting harmed the movement’s image.

Analysis:

Ireland has recently seen an increase in those seeking asylum following the UK’s controversial “Safety of Rwanda” bill passing, now only needing royal assent before becoming law.

Irish deputy prime minister, Micheal Martin, laid the blame for the recent increase in asylees on the Rwanda policy, claiming that “fearful” people are seeking “to get sanctuary here and within the European Union as opposed to the potential of being deported to Rwanda.”

Helen McEntee, the Republic’s Justice Minister, told a parliamentary committee that over 80% of prospective asylees arrived in Ireland were believed to have arrived in the country from the nation’s border with Northern Ireland. The total number of asylees entering from Ireland’s northern border is unknown as the border is unmonitored as per Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement, a policy which has been met with recent controversy due to the UK leaving the European Union. While a hard border was never implemented, members of Northern Ireland’s Unionist DUP party have criticized the UK’s policy, claiming that goods from Britain have instead suffered from customs enforcement.

Anti-immigrant sentiment has seen a rise in Ireland as hundreds of thousands have fled to the island nation seeking safety from dangers in their home countries. These numbers were only exacerbated following the Russian invasion of Ukraine which saw millions of Ukrainian civilians fleeing to the EU.

Immigration is now a pivotal political interest for Ireland’s upcoming national elections which are slated for 2025. This is further exemplified in a recent poll by Ireland Thinks in December, which saw over a quarter of those interviewed stating that they would support a party with “strong anti-immigration views.”

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is an Intelligence Analyst for Atlas News. He has over ten years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.

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