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Policing those ‘protests’ May 24, 2023

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Useful to get a sense of how anti-immigration so-called ‘protests’ are going. As The Irish Times reported yesterday:

New figures obtained by The Irish Times show the number of anti-immigration protests being held in Dublin, where the majority of such events take place, has halved in recent months, from about nine events per week at their peak early in 2023.

In the near eight-week period to February 23rd, some 73 anti-immigration protests were held in Dublin, according to the Garda data. However, in the three months since then, 54 protests have been held. Gardaí believe members of the far right are hijacking anti-immigration protests in some areas.

Releasing the figures, which contradict the narrative that protests were increasing, Garda Headquarters said there was a “constitutional right to the freedom of assemble and freedom of speech, subject to statutory provisions”.

What about the policing of the protests?

Any Garda response to protest events was “in keeping with a community policing model and graduated policing response” taking into account public safety, legislation and human rights.

And:

The commissioner defended the decision by gardaí not to dismantle a roadblock erected by protesters in Inch, Co Clare, last week and the similar action in Santry, which was continuing last night. He said any direct and immediate policing action could create “a well of bad feeling” towards foreign nationals being moved into those areas. Instead, the Garda had to take a strategic and long-term approach, which kept the peace and fostered integration.

Some will have a degree of sympathy in respect of this, albeit with caveats. Having seen at first hand how this issue can damage a community and pit people against one another there’s definitely an argument for light-touch policing in some contexts. Abysmal as the demonstrations have been at the local refugee centre, allowing them to fade away was probably the best call given the number of people involved who weren’t far-right activists.

For a start, disentangling the misled and fearful from those who are malicious is very very difficult. Moreover that first group can be engaged with and indeed have to be because they are of the community. But the second will use any excuse to further pull the first group into conspiratorial (and worse) thinking.

The caveats? The scenes we saw where refugees in ad hoc camps were attacked and camps set on fire seem to require a different response and its curious that the Commissioner and Minister Harris didn’t address that – or at least they’re not recorded as doing so.  

The Commissioner is not wrong that there is a playbook on the far right. They would love gardaí to come swinging with batons into a group of people demonstrating outside a refugee centre. But there’s many many responses below that level of intervention, aren’t there?

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