At the “Save the Children” rally which took place outside the Dail over the weekend, far right campaigners held pictures of nooses aloft, while a much smaller anti-racism and anti-homophobia group was attacked, forcing police to step in.
The rally, whose organisers included far right campaigners, the Irish Freedom Party and the National Party, was ostensibly organised to call for the removal of Roderic O’Gorman, the Minister for Children. O’Gorman has been subject to online attacks for appearing in a photograph with activist Peter Tatchell.
O’Gorman met Tatchell once – at a 2018 Pride Parade – and posed for a photo. Since then, people dragged up comments Tatchell made in 1997, which he has since corrected, where it appeared he condoned young people sleeping with adults. Actor John Connors, as well as the Irish Freedom Party, then made online announcements for O’Gorman to leave the role for associating with Tatchell.
Prior to the Tatchell photo surfacing, the Irish Freedom Party had posted a picture on social media of O’Gorman kissing his partner accompanied by the statement, “Yet another Minister for Children appointed, Roderic O’Gorman, who doesn’t have children.”
At the event on Saturday, Justin Barrett of the National Party addressing those assembled, deliberately riling up the crowd and at one stage, pointing out the smaller anti-rally group and announcing over the speaker, “I see there are people actually here on behalf of the paedophiles.” Attendees rushed at the smaller group, forcing the police to step in.
I don't have video of your speech John. Only video of the thugs attacking peaceful protesters and egged on by Justin Barrett. They'd have been killed if the Garda didn't intervene. pic.twitter.com/S3eeHIedGV
— Hyperbolic (@HyperbolicDub) July 11, 2020
Actor John Connors, who had urged his social media followers to attend the rally, spoke to those assembled outside the Dail. Connors said the photograph of O’Gorman and Tatchell was guilt by association. In the past Connors has shared a picture of himself posing with convicted rapist Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson has also appeared in a photo with Peter Tatchell.
Colm O’Gorman, of Amnesty International Ireland, tweeted about the rally; “Funnily enough in 25 years of working to confront child abuse and other such violations, I’ve never seen any of the ring leaders of this do a damn thing.”
Trying to avoid tweeting about this afternoons carry on, but…..far right hate groups, carrying signs with nooses. All the usual characters. I genuinely feel for anyone who got sucked in by their spin and thought this was about protecting children.
— Colm O'Gorman (@Colmogorman) July 11, 2020
Previously, Roderic O’Gorman has also been attacked in a Facebook group posing as being “COVID-19” information page, but shares racist, homophobic and transphobic content. In an interview with The Times, Aoife Gallagher from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, explained, “The repurposing of Facebook groups is something we’re seeing more and more often. In the US, groups that were set up to protest lockdowns are now awash with Black Lives Matter misinformation and conspiracies.”
“In Ireland, far right actors have been using Facebook groups to spread their messaging for some time. We saw this last year when certain far right leaders infiltrated local Facebook groups to spread hateful content about migrants and refugees.”
Gallagher continued, “The proliferation of this kind of content in such groups, and the attacks on Roderic O’Gorman recently, shows that Ireland is not immune from the kind of rhetoric that has taken over the US in recent years.”
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