Gardaí face 'near anarchy' amid protests against asylum seekers

Gardaí face 'near anarchy' amid protests against asylum seekers

Many protests are conducted peacefully but increasingly challenging behaviour has been seen in recent weeks including marches by large numbers of masked and hooded men, and gardaí being verbally abused as 'the fucking enemy'. File picture: Colin Keegan/Collins

The Garda Representative Association has warned of “near anarchy” as “antisocial elements” have latched on to protests against asylum seekers.

Detective Garda Mark Ferris of the Garda Representative Association for the Dublin west division said youths at anti-immigrant protests had threatened officers, calling them “the fucking enemy”. He called for a specialist taskforce to cope with this “emerging conflict”.

Groups of mostly men, many masked and hooded marched through Finglas last Tuesday loudly protesting the housing of asylum seekers and gathering outside Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis’s constituency office and a garda station. 

Two nights later, protesters in Finglas demonstrated outside the offices of three TDs — Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall, Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe, and Mr Ellis.

Videos circulated online showed protesters shouting “out, out, out!”

“Recent nights have seen the sub-district of Finglas thrown into a state of near anarchy as antisocial elements have latched on to a growing protest movement concerned about State policy on asylum seekers,” Det Gda Ferris said.

A screenshot from an online video apparently showing people going from Finglas Garda Station towards the office of Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis last Tuesday.
A screenshot from an online video apparently showing people going from Finglas Garda Station towards the office of Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis last Tuesday.

“Wednesday evening saw a march of 200+ youths with identities concealed, shouting and abusing gardaí with quotes like ‘you were warned!’, which was rapidly followed up by Thursday night’s scenes where a group gathered outside council offices, again chanting threats.

“This footage is now circulating freely on social media platforms. 

Members I have spoken to told me these youths were again threatening assembled officers with quotes such as, ‘We are going to take the next step; you are the fucking enemy!’

“Adding a politically radicalised segment of our society’s youth into a combustible situation of disadvantaged suburbs where law and order are already widely flouted is a recipe for civil unrest.

An Garda Síochána are now effectively on the frontline of what could almost be classed as an emerging conflict. A taskforce with sweeping remit is now required to match resources to demand so we can meet the challenges ahead.”

Prominent individuals at the Finglas march also took part in a protest in Shannon at the weekend and more protests are expected in Finglas in the coming week.

On Saturday, men with dogs, sticks and a baseball bat attacked a migrant camp in Ashtown, north Dublin.

Demonstrations have also stoked tensions in the Cork town of Fermoy, where ant-immigration protests have been countered by locals reaching out to support asylum seekers and march to protest the burgeoning far-right activity in their town.

Meanwhile, a new poll has found that almost half of Irish people are not satisfied with the Government’s handling of the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

The latest Business Post/Red C poll also found that just over a third think it is not just the far right who are opposed to refugees being welcomed in Ireland.

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