Around 400 protesters showed up today, July 7, to march in solidarity with Cork City Library workers after they were subjected to intimidation and harassment by far-right groups objecting to the presence of LGBTQ+ books in their catalogue. A small counter-protest also took place in the vicinity, but was attended by less than 20 people.
The solidarity march was organised after workers at the public library in Cork faced abuse by far-right protesters, who on several occasions turned up to the premises demanding the removal of LGBTQ+ reading material.
On one occasion, far-right demonstrators entered the building and ripped up a copy of This Book is Gay by trans author Juno Dawson, while the act was live-streamed on social media. Since March, there have been multiple reports of library staff being subjected to intimidation, harassment and verbal abuse, while protestors also filmed them without their consent.
People attending the march today turned up to show their support for Cork library staff and to demand increased workplace protections for them. They marched from Cork City Library to City Hall, blaring sirens to drown out the speeches from a small number of counter-protesters.
Union banners and rainbow flags unite at Cork City Council offices at a mass rally against the far right and to demand that the council act to protect the health and safety of library staff. #Forsa #cork pic.twitter.com/vhiENLrknU
— Mick Barry TD (@MickBarryTD) July 7, 2023
Irish trade union Forsa was among the organisers of the solidarity march and Head of Local Authorities Richy Carrothers called for greater protections for library staff.
“Our members are at risk in their place of work,” he said.
“We have asked local authorities to undertake an immediate health and safety risk assessment of public libraries, and the threat posed by such protesters at libraries.
“Harassment must not be tolerated, and Cork City Council must act to discharge their responsibilities as an employer under health and safety legislation,” he added.
The NXF extend our full solidarity to @corkcitycouncil library staff against utterly unacceptable abuse & harassment.
We commend @forsa_union_ie for taking a stand and are heartened by the huge turnout.
— NXF (@nxfie) July 7, 2023
Speaking to Morning Ireland, Carrothers also highlighted that the tactics used by these far-right protesters are “straight out of the American far-right playbook as far as we’re concerned”.
“What is most disturbing is almost the indifference of some in the local government management system… Because they haven’t acted in any way that that would stop this,” he said.
“So, the failure of the management to act means that we have had to step up to the plate in order to protect workers and that’s why we have called the solidarity protest today with our members,” he continued.
“It’s also an equality protest in terms of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.”
Commenting on the march earlier in the week, Solidarity TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said: “Workers have been subjected to abuse, they have had paedophile slurs hurled at them, they have been filmed against their wishes and they are fed up with this situation,” Barry said. He urged people to join Friday’s protest to “send a message to the far-right.”
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