The Irish Mail on Sunday

Now far-right groups target Saint Patrick’s Day parade

As tens of thousands take to the streets to show support for refugees, anti-immigrant activists plan to disrupt national bank holiday

- By Nicola Byrne nicola.byrne@ mailonsund­

ANTI-IMMIGRATIO­N groups are planning a large demonstrat­ion to disrupt the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin city centre.

The planned protest will be timed to clash with the annual parade, which is expected to attract more than half a million spectators on the day, plus a large television audience.

Malachy Steenson, who has led the protests against asylum seekers in Dublin’s East Wall along with the far-right Irish Freedom Party, confirmed he is involved in organising the protest.

He said he expects ‘many thousands’ to attend.

The solicitor and former city councillor told the Irish Mail on Sunday: ‘We’re sending out the message to the rest of the world that we’ve had enough here; we’ve had enough of being ignored by the political class and the NGO class, people telling us ordinary decent working-class people that we’re racist and far-right.’

Setting the stage for a potentiall­y tense stand-off on St Patrick’s Day, Mr Steenson also appeared to hit out at the inclusiven­ess of the annual parade.

‘I’ll be expecting many thousands to come to that protest. We’ll be announcing the details closer to the time.’

‘I think a lot of people will see it as a counter-protest to what passes for the Patrick’s Day parade. It looks like it’s Gay Pride 2. I think people will come along for that reason as well.’

Despite the growing levels of violence and intimidati­ng behaviour at recent anti-immigratio­n protests, Mr Steenson insisted the rally would not be violent.

This week, a man was charged with dangerous driving after an anti-immigratio­n protester was taken to hospital on Thursday following an incident on Dublin’s Sheriff Street that was captured and shared on social media.

Violence has flared at several anti-immigratio­n rallies in recent weeks, with the protests increasing­ly attracting counterdem­onstration­s.

Meanwhile, the MoS has learned that far-right groups here were split this week over the arrival of the convicted criminal and English nationalis­t, Tommy Robinson.

Robinson – whose previous crimes include assault, theft, drug procession and fraud – is a former member of the British National Party, which previously spouted anti-Irish rhetoric.

Robinson claimed he travelled to Ireland this week to ‘lend support’ to groups protesting against immigrants. Writing on social media, Robinson said he was drawn here by anti-immigratio­n protests while praising the organisers.

The English nationalis­t’s movements were reportedly watched by gardaí. Various images were posted on social media in recent days purporting to show him in Dublin, Cork and Killarney.

A security source said Robinson’s presence here had caused conflict between some groups.

They told the MoS: ‘Some of the anti-groups have strong Republican elements in them. Robinson, as everybody knows, is pro-British army, pro-Union; it’s not a happy mix for many of these groups. They don’t want to be associated with him.’

Mr Steenson, a Republican activist, declined to talk about Robinson. ‘He’s a distractio­n. He’s not important,’ he said.

Commenting on the proposed disruption to the St Patrick’s Day parade, a Garda spokespers­on said: ‘An Garda Síochána respects the right for citizens to exercise their constituti­onal rights.

‘An Garda Síochána has no role in permitting or authorisin­g public gatherings, there is no permit/ authorisat­ion required for such events.

‘A decision as to whether any event takes place rests solely with organisers.

‘Where necessary, An Garda Síochána puts in place appropriat­e and proportion­ate policing plans to monitor public gatherings.

Commenting on Robinson’s arrival, one senior security source said: ‘The practice is to say we don’t comment on operationa­l matters, but it would be safe to surmise Mr

Robinson and his associates are being discreetly but closely monitored.’

 ?? ?? MONITORED: Robinson in Co. Kerry
MONITORED: Robinson in Co. Kerry

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