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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 23 September, 2019
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Councillors meet with gardaí to discuss Gemma O'Doherty-led protests at Google HQ

Gardaí said they had received over 40 complaints about the Barrow St protests.

The Google offices on Barrow St in Dublin.
The Google offices on Barrow St in Dublin.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

CITY COUNCILLORS FROM wards in southside Dublin met with the local authority’s management and senior gardaí from Irishtown today to discuss the ongoing protests outside Google’s Dublin offices. 

Protests headed up by former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty have been taking place for over a month now at the tech giant’s Barrow Street HQ and at other locations around the city.

The meeting, requested by Ringsend-based Fine Gael councillor Danny Byrne, took place at the council offices at Wood Quay and was described afterwards by those present as a useful “check in” on the ongoing protests. 

The demonstrations were initially organised after O’Doherty was suspended from YouTube – which is owned by Google – for violating its policies on hate speech and harassment, after she posted a video criticising ethnic minorities in Ireland. 

The first sanction prevented her from uploading new content for seven days. She continued to post on the site under another username, contravening YouTube’s terms and conditions, leading it to ban her outright from posting any content on the platform.

Following the move, O’Doherty began the occupation outside Google’s headquarters, under the banner of Anti-Corruption Ireland, accusing it of “breaching her right of free speech”.  

She has been joined by others in her demonstration since, and the Google protests have taken place frequently in recent weeks with protesters marching outside the building, raising placards and tricolours and chanting at workers and passers-by.

Councillors in the area say they’ve been inundated with complaints about the protest, including noise complaints. A large-scale counter protest, under the umbrella Speakers Unicorner, took place last weekend. 

Gardaí issued a warning to the Anti-Corruption Ireland protesters on Barrow Street earlier this week, reading out the Public Order Act. It’s understood O’Doherty was asked to desist from playing loud music, beating drums and using an amplifier.

Wood Quay meeting 

Seven local councillors, as well as Labour senator Kevin Humphreys, attended today’s meeting. 

They were told by gardaí that Irishtown Station had received over 40 complaints from locals about the protests, the majority of which were noise complaints. 

The Council has undertaken to monitor noise levels in the area as the protests continue. 

Councillor Byrne, of Fine Gael, said gardaí had been handling the situation well and paid tribute to the professionalism and composure of the officers who had been tasked with policing the Barrow St protests. 

He welcomed the commitment to monitoring noise levels, and said that like other local representatives opposed to the activities of the protesters, he had dealing with “vile, offensive emails” on the subject in the last few weeks. 

Hazel Chu, a local Green Party councillor, said the meeting was a helpful exercise “because we have all been receiving messages and complaints”. The complaints she received came from both residents and local companies, she said. 

Irish presidential race Gemma O'Doherty Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Labour’s Dermot Lacey said he and other councillors at the meeting reiterated their view that the right to assembly needed to be balanced against the fact that protests should not impinge on the rights of others. 

O’Doherty has been a controversial figure on social media in recent years, and regularly issues posts criticising Ireland’s media, political parties and immigration policies.

She attempted to run in last year’s presidential election, but was unable to secure enough nominations from local councils to get on the ballot. She also ran for the European elections this year in the Dublin constituency, where she secured 6,659 first preference votes, finishing 12th out of 19 candidates.  

O’Doherty did not respond to calls and messages left today.

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About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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