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'We can't just pause our emotions': Protest organiser not deterred by calls to stop event due to Covid-19

A series of demonstrations are expected to take place across the country on Saturday.

People at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin
People at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin
Image: PA

ONE OF THE organisers of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests this weekend has said that Ireland needs to react to racism while there is a global focus on the issue.     

A series of demonstrations are expected to take place in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Leitrim on Saturday.

They are being organised by MASI, Migrants and Ethnic minorities for Reproductive Justice and Black Pride Ireland as a show of solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests in the US and to call for an end to Direct Provision.

However, there has been criticism of a similar protest in Dublin on Monday, when thousands of people took to the streets to voice their anger at the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in the US.

Gardaí are investigating a potential breach of Covid-19 regulations relating to the protest, while Minister for Health Simon Harris and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan have both suggested that such protests should not currently be taking place.

Lucky Kambole of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) says protesters could not delay their response to racism.

“We’re doing this to express a message of peace and say ‘no’ to racism,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“This is an opportunity now because it’s happening now. Not next week, not next month; it’s happening now. We can’t just pause our emotions.”

Kambole stressed that organisers did not take the issue of Covid-19 lightly, and called on all those attending the protests to maintain social distancing and to wear a face mask.

The demonstrations will be the latest in a series of protests that have taken place around the world as people decry years of deaths of black people at police hands.

Two smaller protests took place outside the US embassy and the US ambassador’s residence in Dublin on Sunday.

Kambole explained that events in the US are being felt by people of colour around the world, and that the problems are not unique to that country.

“You don’t have to be in America to feel that pain. We feel that pain here,” he said.

“We are saying we cannot keep quiet and ignore it. People always say that there’s no racism in Ireland. But if you live in Ireland, you come across racism now and then.

“The thing is that here, racism is swept under the carpet so that people don’t see it.”

He added that those calling for the protests not to go ahead because of Covid-19 were not those who are affected by racism.

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This Saturday’s demonstration in Dublin will take place at the US Embassy at 3pm.

A second Black Lives Matter protest by different organisers which was originally scheduled to take place on Monday 8 June was cancelled last night due to concerns about Covid-19.

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