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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 10 December, 2019
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Special council meeting called to address Gemma O'Doherty-led protests at Google HQ

It is understood protesters were approached by gardaí yesterday afternoon.

File image of Google HQ on Barrow St.
File image of Google HQ on Barrow St.
Image: Niall Carson

CITY COUNCILLORS FROM three wards in southside Dublin are to convene a special meeting with An Garda Síochana to discuss measures to address ongoing protests outside Google’s Dublin offices. 

Protests, headed up by former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty, have been staged for over a month now on Barrow Street in Dublin.

Traditionally the council does not arrange meetings during the month of August but following a request from a number of Fine Gael councillors, a spokesperson confirmed a briefing has been arranged for 11am on Friday morning to discuss the matter. 

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, and the removal of the offending video. She continued to post on the site under another username, contravening YouTube’s own 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 accusing it of “breaching her right of free speech”.  

The protest is taking place under the banner of Anti-Corruption Ireland, a small group founded by O’Doherty.

The Google protests have taken place most days since with protesters marching outside the building, raising placards and tricolours, and chanting at workers and passers-by.

They have sparked retaliation protests from groups opposed to O’Doherty and Anti-Corruption Ireland’s views on abortion, LGBT rights and migrants. A larger scale counter demonstration took place last weekend, under the umbrella campaign Speakers Unicorner. 

Irish presidential race Gemma O'Doherty at City Hall in Dublin. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Public Order

Meanwhile, it is understood that gardaí approached the Anti-Corruption Ireland protesters at Google’s offices on Barrow Street yesterday and read out the Public Order Act, suggesting they do not breach it. 

Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 states that a person acting in an offensive way, distributing or displaying threatening or insulting writing or signs, or obstructing free movement in public, may require intervention from authorities. 

It says they may be asked to “desist from acting in such a manner, and leave immediately the vicinity of the place concerned in a peaceable or orderly manner”. 

It is understood O’Doherty was asked to desist from playing loud music, beating drums and using an amplifier in line with the laws.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that protesters were approached by gardaí but “no arrests or official interventions have occurred”. 

A spokesperson said: “The persons involved in the demonstrations have been informed that they do have the right to protest as long as their actions do not breach the public order act.”

Fine Gael councillor Danny Byrne – who proposed the council meeting – said the protests were having a severe impact on the residents in the area. 

“I’ve been in touch with gardaí, Google management and local residents, and I am being told different things and nothing is getting solved,” he said. 

“So we’re having a meeting with council management, the residents and gardaí to solve and put an end to this. I know a girl living there and studying for a masters and she just can’t do it in the privacy of her own home because of it,” he added. 

Green Party councillor Hazel Chu said a number of councillors from the South East Inner City area have been in contact with gardaí in recent days to discuss measures that would bring an end to the protests. 

Protesters last week made comments about Chu, who was born in Dublin, in relation to her parents’ Chinese heritage. 

“It’s very hard for the gardaí to charge them on the basis that there is no legislation there to charge them with,” she told TheJournal.ie.

“It comes down to noise pollution more than anything and a lot of local residents complained to gardaí because of noise pollution.

“I appreciate that councillors have called a meeting in solidarity, but equally a lot of this has been happening by individuals on the council working with authorities and gardaí anyway.”

Labour’s Dermot Lacey said he will also be attending the meeting but cautioned that he didn’t want to give any more attention to the group. 

“I will attend the meeting on Friday. I mean, I do have concerns about all of this, that we’re giving a bunch of attention seekers even more attention,” he said. 

“I don’t think the behaviour of a fringe-right group should be tolerated… I have this little bit of me that says maybe these people should be told to go away and we ignore them.”

Gemma O’Doherty declined to make herself available for comment when contacted by TheJournal.ie.

Last year, she attempted to run in the Presidential election but did not receive enough votes from local authorities to make it to the ballot paper. 

She also put herself forward for the European elections this year and finished in 12th place out of a total 19th candidates in Dublin. 

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