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People march through Newtown protesting against the housing of asylum seekers nearby. © RollingNews.ie
Wicklow

Anti-asylum seeker protesters march through Newtownmountkennedy chanting 'Newtown says no'

Also heard among the crowd were calls to “protect our women and children”.

PEOPLE HAVE MARCHED through Newtownmountkennedy in Wicklow, protesting against the planned housing of asylum seekers at a site near the town.

Videos and pictures posted on social media this afternoon show a large group of people carrying Irish flags, signs and banners. The group has been chanting, “Newtown says no” and “Whose streets? Our streets”. 

The banner at the head of the march reads: “Ireland is our homeland, we will not be replaced. No plantation, send them back.” 

Use of the word “plantation” in reference to buildings and campsites housing asylum seekers is commonly found among those in Ireland who adhere to the white nationalist ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory.

Also heard among the crowd were calls to “protect our women and children”. 

Some locals have expressed concerns about the quality of the planned accommodation facilities, arguing that they are not fit for people to say in, while others simply oppose the presence of asylum seekers in their town.

Newtownmountkennedy has been the site of public disorder and protests in recent weeks that came to a head on Thursday night when gardaí made five arrests and used pepper spray on people they said were trespassing on the site of a disused former school, which has been earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation. 

Gardaí have been attempting to escort workers onto the property to make arrangements for asylum seekers to stay there, which protesters have attempted to block.  

Gardaí said they had “come under attack” by some of those among the group, who included locals and people who had come from further afield. 

Videos online showed violent clashes between gardaí and members of the public on Thursday night. A fire was also lit at an outbuilding on the edge of the property. 

Four people have been charged following those arrests, three men and one woman, for offences contrary to the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994. They appeared in court yesterday. 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said earlier in the week that there were “very unacceptable scenes seen here in terms of a protest, which then turned to violence”. 

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “Any attack on a member of an Garda Siochana is an attack on our democracy and our state. Gardaí have my full support in their work & while peaceful protest is a right we all value, we will not tolerate vandalism and attacks on Gardaí.”

 

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