Orla Dwyer
kildare street

Three arrested after anti-racism, free speech protests outside Leinster House

A man in his early 40s has been charged and is due to appear before court at a later date.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 14th 2019, 6:15 PM

GARDAÍ HAVE ARRESTED one woman and two men in relation to the protests that took place outside Leinster House this afternoon. 

A garda spokesperson said the woman (30s) and an 18-year-old man “will be dealt with by adult caution”. 

A man in his early 40s has been charged and is due to appear before court at a later date.

There was a large garda presence from early afternoon as one group of protestors gathered outside Leinster House in response to the “growing threat to civil liberties” posed by increases in hate crime and hate speech in Ireland.

Hundreds of people turned out for the Solidarity Alliance against Racism and Fascism’s (SARF) rally for peace to encourage a more inclusive Ireland. 

A separate rally also saw protesters gather to “defend free speech” and oppose new hate speech laws, organised by The Irish Freedom Party. 

IMG_20191214_133428 (1) Protest outside Leinster House today. Orla Dwyer Orla Dwyer

Those that gathered in support of the rally for peace were protesting against any form of racism and fascism in Ireland, chanting: “Listen up and listen clear refugees are welcome here”. 

Journalist Ursula Halligan of We are Church Ireland, a Catholic reform group, said the group is in attendance to say welcome to asylum seekers and immigrants, “and we hope Irish people will make them welcome wherever they are”. 

On the turnout for the rally for peace, Halligan said: “I would expect nothing less from Irish people, they are good in their heart, they’re wonderful people and it’s just a pity that there’s a small elements that are fascistic and racist, and we must stand up to that. We don’t want to go the way of the countries.”

One member of the protest Noah Halpin, who was with transgender healthcare campaign This Is Me, said he was attending to “stand up against the fascist far-right”.

“I am happy to see that we more than doubled [the counter-protest] numbers here today, which says a lot for modern society,” he said. 

A member of the free speech protest, who did not want to be named, said the rally for peace was trying to stop freedom of speech. 

“We have all these people calling us racist because we just want our country looked after,” he said, adding that he did not believe he was racist as was claimed by the counter-protest.  

The Department of Justice is currently in the consultation process of existing legislation on hate speech until 13 December. 

Some forms of hate speech are already a criminal offence under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. It prohibits threatening, abusive or insulting conduct that is intended or likely to stir up hatred against a group of persons on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation.

However, while the existing law contains provision for serious consequences, potentially up to and including a lengthy prison sentence, there have only been 50 prosecutions under it and only a handful of convictions. 

Comments have been closed as one man has been charged. 

Orla Dwyer and Adam Daly