Dublin City Council passes motion to protect libraries from anti-LGBTQ+ protests

The motion passed by Dublin City Council will protect libraries from intimidation from far-right agitators protesting against LGBTQ+ books.

Image of the entrance to Dublin City Council, where a motion to protect libraries from far-right protests was passed, on Wood Quay.

Dublin City Council (DCC) has just passed a motion that will not only protect libraries from intimidation from anti-LGBTQ+ protests by far-right groups, but will also supply libraries nationwide with LGBTQ+ literature – the very thing that far-right protestors are up in arms about. 

As reported by Dublin People, the motion was introduced to Dublin City Council earlier this month by Green Party Councillor Michael Pidgeon. Councillor Pidgeon began working on the motion to counter a series of far-right protests that occurred at libraries across the country earlier this year, most notably, in Cork

In March of this year, the Grand Parade Library in Cork began experiencing a great deal of intimidation from far-right protestors who were objecting to the presence of LGBTQ+ reading material at the library. In addition to subjecting the staff to intimidation, verbal abuse and slurs, the group also recorded videos of workers without their consent. 

Over the course of the year, similar anti-LGBTQ+ protests were seen at libraries in Swords, Kerry, Limerick, Galway and Longford. 

Councillor Pidgeon’s motion was initially introduced in April, a precursor to the far-right riots and looting that broke out in Dublin City centre last month. 

In his motion, Pidgeon expressed his fears that similar anti-LGBTQ+ protests to those that occurred in Cork and elsewhere would eventually migrate to Dublin. He similarly acknowledged that the motion was a symbolic gesture, issued by the Councillor as a matter of principle. 

“A lot of far-right activists started targeting libraries because they were stocking material around LGBTQ+ people and their lives and experience – they claimed that basically any reference or mention to anyone who was gay or who had a sexuality that was different or perceived as different was somehow pornography” Pidgeon said.

“You can see why the far-right went after libraries; they are everything they are not. They are quiet places, thoughtful, communal, inclusive, for everyone, and the far-right is hyper-individualistic, super-aggressive, thoughtless, loud, you can see why they go after it.”

“It’s a bit of a two fingers to the far-right who try and individualise us and separate us from the good things that libraries in particular provide,” said Councillor Pidgeon about the motion. 

The motion received support from Sinn Féin Councillor Larry O’Toole, who said he “fully” backed the proposal. O’Toole added: “even if it’s a symbolic thing, it’s very important.” 

“What has happened in libraries over the last few months – people going into libraries and attacking workers or people using the libraries – is despicable stuff,” continued Councillor O’Toole before adding that the series of far-right library protests earlier this year ought to act as a “warning sign” when it comes to the threat of far-right behaviour in Ireland. 

The motion similarly received support from O’Toole’s Sinn Féin colleague Mícheál Mac Donncha, who said that Dublin’s “proud history” of public libraries was well worth protecting. He similarly noted that some of the world’s oldest libraries are located in Dublin City. 

Mac Donncha similarly related the testimony of Cork Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould, who took part in a counter-protest at a Cork library this summer. 

“He told me there were only two things that had caused the library to close in the history of Cork – the Black and Tans and the far-right. We need to reinforce the right to read, and the benefits that libraries bring,” Mac Donncha said.

Additional members of Dublin City Council that moved to pass the motion included Social Democrats Councillor Cat O’Driscoll, Independent Councillors Cieran Perry, Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney, former Lord Mayor Hazel Chu, Fine Gael’s Ray McAdam and James Geoghegan, and Veteran Councillor Vincent Jackson. 

Councillor Jackson beautifully summarised the motion and the threat of far-right anti-LGBTQ+ protests in Ireland, saying: “The people who want to ban a book are the same people who want to burn the book. Where have we seen that before? We saw it in Italy under Mussolini, we saw it in Spain, and we saw it in Germany with Hitler, and we are seeing it in Russia now with Putin banning the LGBT movement.

“The far-right is a term that’s been thrown around without people not necessarily knowing what it means, but I’ll spell out what I think it means – the far-right are fascists, they’re racists, they’re homophobic, they’re conspiracy theorists. And where did we hear that before? We heard that in history back in the 1930s.

“They’re calling for the banning of books, but they aren’t calling for the banning of social media, because that is their forum where they can spread their hate and lies,” Councillor Jackson concluded. 

Adam Long, Board Director of the National LGBT Federation (NXF), stated:

“The NXF applauds Dublin City Councillors for voting unanimously in favour of standing with the LGBT+ community and against hateful far-right ‘protests’ that seek to erase crucial visibility and representation, and to underline that commitment by sending LGBT+ literature to libraries across the country.

“Other councils, including Cork and Louth, have also passed similar motions unanimously.

“Indeed, at our recent GALAS LGBT+ Awards, the amazing staff of Cork City Council Library won our Ally Award to thunderous applause and standing ovation.

“We will not be dragged backwards by abusive so-called ‘protests’ which are far from peaceful and which should not be tolerated,” Long concluded.

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