Garda Commissioner: No rise of far-right in Ireland

The Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, has said that the far-right is not growing in Ireland and that the Gardai are working with local communities to build consent around housing migrants and asylum seekers.

The Garda chief said that an “over-response by the authorities” of the State, and confrontation with protesters was not the preferred response of an Garda Síochána.

“This is a long-term policing strategy. We are here to work with consent with local communities, to build consent around the housing of individuals who have sought international protection,” he said.

Almost 130 protests against the government’s immigration policy have been held in the past 5 months, Garda data shows, while many others have also been held around the country.

Garda Headquarters told the Irish Times that there was a “constitutional right to the freedom of assemble and freedom of speech, subject to statutory provisions”.

Last week, the Gardai said that there is a marked lack of violence around anti-immigration protests compared to other countries – and seemed to take issue with remarks by Leo Varadkar which suggested there were not enough Gardaí to police such demonstrations.

Conor Lally of the Irish Times reported:

Gardaí have questioned a statement by Leo Varadkar that there were not enough gardaí available to effectively combat anti-immigration attacks, with one Garda source saying the Taoiseach appeared to be trying to “deflect” from housing policy failures that have resulted in asylum seekers sleeping on the streets.

And in regard to the protests in Sandwith Street tin the city centre last Friday, he added:

Garda sources said there was no shortage of personnel last Friday night, adding that if more gardaí had been available they would not have been used as the operation was fully staffed.

They believed Mr Varadkar’s remarks demonstrated a lack of knowledge about how the Garda had run policing operations at anti-immigration protests in recent years.

“The tactic, they said, was to avoid flooding protest scenes with as many gardaí as possible because senior Garda management had long decided a more subtle and nuanced approach should be taken to avoid ratcheting up tensions at the events.”

They added that while public order, and some arson attacks, had been directed at asylum seekers over the last year, there had been a marked lack of violence around anti-immigration protests compared to other countries.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister, Simon Harris, was critical of some protesters who blocked busses bringing migrants and asylum seekers from entering an industrial estate in Santry where accommodation was to be provided.

“To see that flag hijacked by a very small number of individuals – who do not speak for Ireland, who have no democratic mandate – is really despicable and should be called out of such,” Mr Harris said.

However, locals in Santry said that the lack of consultation and lack of local services in the area had brought them to protest against the move.



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