Black Lives Matter demonstrations took place as scheduled this afternoon in Dublin and around the country, in solidarity with the family of George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25th in the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The events have been organised amid worldwide protests for justice in the case, as well as an opening of conversations on racial inequities in societies around the world.
Over 600 people gathered outside the American embassy in Dublin, with organisers handing out personal protective equipment, saying they were taking necessary measures to ensure as much social distancing as is possible, in the face of Garda warnings of potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations.
Organisers argued the protest was necessary, to highlight the cramped living conditions at Direct Provision centres around the country.
About a thousand people join a Black Lives Matter protest at the US embassy in Dublin. pic.twitter.com/L59jinAdbv— SharonGaffney (@Sharon_Gaffney) June 6, 2020
Very moving- everyone here knelt in solidarity & then cheered for change.— Immigrant Council.ie (@immigrationIRL) June 6, 2020
We can do it. We can make sure there is no room for racism in Ireland #InThisTogether #BlackLivesMattters #BLMIreland @masi_asylum @merj_ireland @BlackPrideIre pic.twitter.com/tKeFVJHwz4
Addressing the crowd, Lucky Khambule of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland found himself almost drowned out by chanting.
"They put a knee on George's neck. A knee on his neck. He pled out for his life, and called the officer 'Sir'. The pain was so much that he shouted out for anyone to hear: 'I can't breathe'.
"We're not here today by accident, not by chance. We here in Ireland also want to... say his name," he said via megaphone to the assembly, who responded by chanting Mr Floyd's name, among others of those who have died in US police custody.
Speaking to radio, young protesters spoke of addressing long-running social issues surrounding race closer to home.
"There is racism, though it's been silent for a long time. We're all out here to fight it together, black and white, which is brilliant," said one man of the gathering.
"Just because this isn't America, it doesn't mean that racism isn't happening here too. It's very important. It's not just since George Floyd has died, it's been happening for years," a woman in attendance said, as ongoing chants were audible in the background.
In an earlier address, Health Minister Simon Harris stated that he would prefer those moved to demonstrate to make their voices heard by writing to the US ambassador, rather than gathering for a protest.
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan this morning called for protests and demonstrations not to go ahead, in the current conditions.
Meanwhile, Washington is expecting its biggest demonstration yet today, as mourners prepare for a second memorial service for Mr Floyd.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined demonstrators in taking a knee outside the country's parliament, in solidarity with the protesters.
Thousands of people are also demonstrating in central London today, as well as in cities and towns across the world.
Black Lives Matter demonstrators have given those who were victims of racism courage to speak out, according to an organiser of today's rally in Dublin.
It is due to get underway at the US Embassy later following a large march last week in solidarity with protesters in the US after the death in police custody of George Floyd.
Similar demonstrations will take place in Cork, Galway and Sligo
Lucky Khambule says the reaction has been positive.
"It has galvanised people and amplified their voices because it made people reflect and look into their own personal experiences of racism," said Mr Khambule.
"It has given people the courage to speak up."
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer is appealing to people not to attend demonstrations this weekend.
Dr Tony Holohan says it is not the time to be holding rallies here.
"I wouldn't want to take anything away from either people's right to protest or understanding of the motivation behind it," said Dr Holohan.
"It's not a comment on any of that, but we think now is not the time to be arranging mass gatherings or events that have the potential to become mass gatherings.
"We have a message first of all to those organising, to say do not organise those kinds of events, and for people who would be intending to visit them to stay away."