WATCH: Thousands at march oppose immigration policies, criticise media

Thousands of people attended a march through Dublin city centre on bank holiday Monday protesting the government’s immigration policies while also sharply criticising the media’s coverage of the issue.

Protests around the issue has grown considerably in numbers and size in recent week, as communities say that they are deeply unhappy with unvetted male migrants being placed without consultation in their areas, and point to what they see as an unfair burden being placed on already disadvantaged areas while they say buildings lie empty in more affluent areas.

Large numbers of families were in attendance, and speaker Malachy Steenson from the East Wall Says No Committee pointed to the buggies and prams, telling the crowd: “We are not the far right. Are the children in these buggies the far right?”

Steenson said that everything the protesters had said since November was “shown to be true” including the government’s inability to deal with the numbers now arriving. He and others also said that the media had tried unfairly to portray protesters who had valid concerns as racists.

The march stopped outside the offices of a number of newspapers and radio stations including the Independent, the Irish Times and Newstalk and Today FM.

Journalist Alison O’Reilly captured some of the crowd as it moved through Dublin City Centre, with placards saying the protesters “represented the 90%”.

The march packed Grafton Street as the demonstrators made their way to media headquarters across the city. Protesters sang along to ‘Something inside so strong’ as they walked.

A new opinion poll published at the weekend showed that a significant majority of people believe that Ireland has taken in too many refugees in the past year.

Excluding the considerable number of those unsure, some 65% of those who expressed an opinion in the poll, by Ireland Thinks for the Sunday Independent, believe that too many refugees have been taken into the country.

The East Wall Protest group said that the marchers were a “grassroots movement” that was “growing rapidly”.
They said that the protest would continue until people were listened to, and that “the State and the NGO class” were attempting “to discredit the grassroots movement taking place across the country.”

The Sunday Independent poll showed that a majority also believed that protesters against the government’s immigration policy were not ‘far-right’ but “predominantly concerned local residents”. Similar numbers also believed that the media reporting of the refugee situation in Ireland is “in favour of refugees and against those with concerns.”

On Monday, a grouping called Le Chéile held a significantly smaller ‘Refugees Welcome’ protest on O’Connell where demonstrators heard that the government must act to accommodate those coming to Ireland and claiming asylum.

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