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Woman arrested after Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu harassed by far-right protesters outside Mansion House

Hazel Chu was approached by a group of people who criticised her for wearing a mask and referred to her as a ‘shape-shifting dragon’.

Hazel Chu
Hazel Chu
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

ONE WOMAN HAS been arrested after Dublin’s Lord Mayor Hazel Chu was accosted by a group of far-right protesters outside the Mansion House on Dawson Street in Dublin’s city centre.

Chu was approached by the protesters as she left the Mansion House, where she lives with her husband and young child, on Thursday. 

One of the people who approached Chu touched her and offered to shake her hand. When Chu said she couldn’t because of Covid guidelines, the group criticised her for wearing a mask and argued with her over other Covid-19 measures.

According to the Irish Examiner, which first reported the story, the protesters were holding placards – one of which read ‘our lives matter’ – and filmed the incident.

Chu told the paper that it made her feel “deeply uncomfortable”.

The alliance Le Chéile, which aims to tackle the growth of the far right on the island of Ireland, said that “this was not a one-time event”.

“This is the result of consistent far-right and racist abuse towards the Mayor online which has escalated to the point where the far-right have felt emboldened to turn up to the Mayor’s home and harass her.”

Following the incident, Gardaí confirmed to TheJournal.ie that a woman in her 40s was arrested yesterday following “persistent lack of compliance with public health regulations and directions from An Garda Síochána”.

She was taken to Pearse Street Garda Station where she has since been released and issued with a Fixed Payment Notice, Gardaí said.

‘It wasn’t clear what they were protesting about’

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Chu said that a regular annual event at the Mansion House was “hijacked” by this group who approached her yesterday.

She said that a notice had been spread in far-right Facebook groups encouraging people to come to the Mansion House to protest, though Chu said “it wasn’t clear what they were protesting about”. 

None of them were wearing masks, Chu said. 

After Chu said she told them that the Covid guidelines are to keep people safe, she said she was told that she was wearing a mask “to protect me and not them”.

As she approached the steps of the Mansion House, Chu said one of the people shouted: “When you start turning into a shape-shifting dragon, we will catch you on camera.”

“When I went into the House, more of them arrived and there was about 30 of them in total.”

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She said that the people had confronted her about Covid regulations mostly, and that “the racist abuse tends to be more online,” but said that she recognised some members of the group yesterday had “provided very direct racist abuse on other occasions”.

Chu repeatedly stressed that she has nothing against protests, though she does think protesters should socially distance and abide by the guidelines. 

“If people are against my policies, against Covid [policies], if they want to air their views, I’m absolutely happy to take it, but you do need a reason why you’re there protesting. It can’t just be because they don’t like the look of me – I can’t change those things.”

She said that the issue is complicated because “the Mansion House is also our home. What are you protesting against?”.

When asked about her young daughter, Chu said that “it’s hard not to be concerned” about her safety, adding that she does double-check around her when her daughter is with her.

Hazel Chu said that she has received abuse before that was directed at her daughter.

She continued:

“I’m in this job to make sure my daughter has a better life in the future, to the next generations. That’s why I’m here. I don’t want her to see the the crap out when there’s 30 people out there that don’t like me or her. My fear for her is that if we don’t change things – how will things be better for her?”

“I’ve been told I’m playing the victim card, but for me it’s so that we combat these issues. 

“If there’s any good example [of what this can lead to], it’s what happened on Capitol Hill a week and a half ago. These things don’t die down, they build up. If you don’t challenge groups like this, if you don’t call it out, then you get to this boiling point where people ask why didn’t we do anything about it [before now]?”

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