Tens of thousands march in Dublin in solidarity with migrants and refugees

The 'Ireland For All' solidarity march was organised in opposition to the anti-refugee protests that recently took place in Dublin.

Huge crowd participating in solidarity march standing in front of Custom House in Dublin to listen to speeches from speakers on a stage.
Image: Via Twitter - @hazechu

Tens of thousands of people turned out for the ‘Ireland For All’ solidarity march that took place in Dublin on Saturday, February 18. The large crowd gathered to stand in opposition to the recent wave of anti-refugee protests that happened in the capital.

Demonstrators gathered in Parnell Square and marched down O’Connell Street, ultimately arriving at Custom House Quay, where a stage had been set up for a number of speakers and musical acts. According to the organisers, as many as 50,000 people were present at the march to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees.

The rally was organised as a response to the anti-immigration protests that recently took place at accomodation centres for refugees, which also resulted in the burning of a building in the capital and an attack on a tenting site in Ashtown. Organisations supporting migrants and refugees were joined by trade unions, political parties, NGOs and community groups, including LGBTQ+ groups such as Dublin Pride, TENI and GCN.

Feminist and LGBTQ+ activist Ailbhe Smith was the first speaker to take the stage at the end of the solidarity march and told the crowd that such a large turnout sent a “huge message” to the government. “Ireland For All is a broad 32-county coalition of activists, grassroots and community groups, NGOs, political parties, trade unions; we are all in this coalition together. We have come together to celebrate that fabulous rich variety and diversity that is Ireland today,” she said.

Smyth added, “We are here to stand up against the hatred and disinformation being spewed out by far-right extremists. Their vile racism, transphobia and misogyny, deliberating scapegoating minorities, ratcheting up people’s fears and anxieties, driving a wedge in working-class communities – we will not stand for that.”

Irish singer Christy Moore also took to the stage and told the crowd that his presence at the march was meant to show his “revulsion” towards “the hatred and violence expressed by a small number of people” against refugees coming to Ireland.

His speech was followed by the words of former MP and veteran civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey, who addressed people, saying that the march was only the beginning and that the question that must be asked to the nation is: “Are you on the side of humanity, decency, equal rights, or are you on the road to fascism?”

Other speakers included Traveller activist Rose Marie Maughan, who said that the recent “shameful” anti-refugee protests were “not who we are as an Irish nation”.

Maughan added, “I know what it’s like as a Traveller to be oppressed. We know how it feels to be protested against. We know what it’s like to have our homes and camps burned down. That is not the Ireland we need.”

Founder of activist group Black and Irish, Leon Diop, also spoke to the crowd, saying: “Difference should be a cause for celebration and not for conflict, whether you were born in Ireland or Cameroon, Yemen or Ukraine: We’re here to celebrate each other and say no to division”.

Diop concluded, “There’s been a culture of fear and frustration growing in Ireland. The far-right have played on people’s fears to shift the blame of these long-standing issues onto refugees and that is wrong. We need to replace this culture of fear and hatred with love and empathy.”

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