The Gardai have said that there is a marked lack of violence around anti-immigration protests compared to other countries – a statement which could be seen as a rebuke to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who had condemned protests and claimed there were insufficient gardaí on the street to deal with incidents.
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.
Ouch. ‘A lack of knowledge’. That’s a pretty sharp response. But there was more.
“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.
“A marked lack of violence”. That’s surely good to know, even though the absolute opposite impression is certainly given in media reports and commentary around immigration protests.
Its certainly a vindication of the ordinary people in East Wall and Kill and elsewhere who have sought to make the government listen to their genuine concerns as thousands of people have been placed in different parts of the country without consultation.
It’s also a pretty strong statement from a source in An Garda Síochana in direct response to claims made by an Taoiseach.
It’s certainly notable that Gardaí seem to be contradicting Mr Varadkar’s claims at a time when many politicians are seeking to paint local opposition to the government’s disastrous migrant policy as being ‘far-right’ and violent.
Yesterday, Taoiseach said that Gardaí were investigating the Sandwith Street incident in other to “find who’s responsible and make sure they’re brought to justice so they can’t harm anybody else”.
Yet, Gardaí said that there were no injuries at the protest, although Gript’s Fatima Gunning, who was reporting from the scene said it was undoubtedly tense.
While the burning of pallets and other materials at the site occurred after the protests had dispersed, the Irish Times revealed that the fire “was set by very young men, possibly teenagers.”
That, again, is quite a different story to the apocryphal tales of the ‘far-right’ amassing to burn people out of house and home.
Of course, the government has form in ignoring the Gardaí’s evidence when it suits them – such as when they insist on criminalising peaceful prayer based on their unquestioning acceptance of the spurious claims of abortion supporters, despite Drew Harris saying such pro-life protests were law-abiding and peaceful, and that there was ‘no evidence to suggest that there is threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour directed towards persons utilising” abortion services.
It seems, however, that ‘no evidence’ is required when the government and opposition are united in enforcing a policy – even when they are meeting with increasing opposition from ordinary people who are tired of radical change being imposed on them and of the negative consequence for their communities.
As the tents continue to mount up, and protests continue to grow across the country, it might be a case that public opinion forces the government to listen.