The Garda Commissioner said investigations were underway into a small number of far-right individuals who had used public protests to advance their own sinister agendas, disrupting and causing fear and concern in communities.
Speaking at a closing ceremony on Lake Garda in Templemore, Drew Harris said that while most protests are peaceful, the Gardaí are aware of what is happening on the ground and behind the scenes and are continuing their investigations into groups that have alternatives.
He said these motives are biased and have a sinister agenda, adding that Gardaí will take action if criminal law is violated.
Recently there have been several demonstrations against the accommodation of refugees and asylum seekers.
Justice Secretary Simon Harris said it was important to note that communities across the country welcome people to Ireland’s shores.
The minister said the government will continue to support the gardaís as they work in increasingly hostile environments, adding that he plans to increase the number of gardaís from 14,100 to 15,000 this year.
Greater Garda presence
A group of Dublin volunteers working to welcome refugees and asylum seekers into their community have said they would like to see an increased Garda presence in the ongoing protests against the housing of international protection seekers to those living in these centres to protect people.
In response to Commissioner Harris’ comments, a spokesperson for East Wall Here for All said: “There’s going to be some elements of that latching on to some of the protests but I think having more of a presence at these protests in general is really critical. I mean if protests are happening outside the centres when there’s vulnerable people in centres, its definitely really important for them to make sure they don’t get out of hand in any way,” reports RTE.
Earlier, the Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council said the government has a “huge responsibility” to communicate with the Irish public and society about why people should be given protection here.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Nick Henderson said he supports the counter-protests taking place in communities against these demonstrations.
“I think it very much works because these are local people coming together in their communities from all types of backgrounds and showing and demonstrating that their communities have had a history of welcoming people seeking refuge,” he said, reports RTE.
Mr Henderson said the board will endeavor to reach out to those who may have concerns and questions.
An independent councilor for the Ballymun area of Dublin said a number of protesters gathered outside his home last night shouting obscenities.
Demonstrations erupted against the accommodation of refugees and asylum seekers at a local Travelodge hotel.
Vincent Jackson said many parents in the area kept their children away from school today after being “shocked and distressed” by last night’s protests.
On the same program, Mr Jackson said these protesters concerned a small group who had been misled and misinformed.
“I would ask the people who are involved in these protests to really have a good check on what they are doing and the consequences of their actions, because I would be fearful in the future … that people could get hurt when people jump into frenzies,” he said, reports RTE.
Fórsa expresses solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers
Fórsa, the largest public sector union, expressed solidarity with refugees and asylum-seekers and criticized the protests, which aimed to intimidate those directly involved in shelters.
National Secretary Richy Carrothers said the protests were staged by a “small number of people who have attempted to stoke fear and hatred in the community”, reports RTE.
Forsa said intimidating those directly involved in care would only deter vulnerable people and tear communities apart.
The union added that it supports measures to end direct procurement and make it easier for refugees to access employment.
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