Speakers Unicorner founder on counter-protesting Gemma O'Doherty and tackling hate speech

Fiona Pettit, founder of Speakers Unicorner, speaks about how the movement came about and their ongoing counter-protests.

Counter protest with LGBT+ flags from last Friday and Fiona Pettit

Speakers Unicorner gathered at Barrow Street today calling on the Gardai to take action against Gemma O’Doherty’s continued demonstrations outside Google Headquarters. The group emerged last Friday to counter O’Doherty’s demonstrations. Fiona Pettit, its founder, highlights the reasons why she created the movement. 

The name Speakers Unicorner is a response to O’Doherty’s self-labelled Speaker’s Corner – taken from an area in London which promotes debate and discussion. Pettit suggested O’Doherty’s version of the Corner promoted open debate “only if you are spewing her rhetoric”. 

Pettit further stated, “The unicorn is a symbol that seems to drive the far-right people over the edge, so we called it Speakers Unicorner”.

Pettit described the role of Speakers Unicorner saying, “We are here to protect the vulnerable groups. We want to speak for the minorities that are being subjected to this hate. That’s what we are doing today. We care about each other”.

“Our grievance lies with the Gardai for not stopping this hate speech,” Pettit said. She plans on filing a complaint to the Gardai stating O’Doherty is in breach of the Prohibition Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. Under the Act, it is an offence to create or distribute homophobic, racist or other discriminatory materials.

During the protest today, the group are delivering a letter to the head of social media companies, which can be seen here in a press release.

Since establishing the group, Pettit has suffered a wide range of verbal abuse and threats. On her way to the protest today, she reported that a majority of men called her horrific names. “What I go on to see in Ireland is us regressing,” she said.

O’Doherty’s demonstrations have gone into their fourth week. Last Friday, Panti Bliss and other LGBT+ activists came out to block her from Google HQ. Fiona and the Speakers Unicorner intend to continue countering her demonstrations. 

Pettit warned, “If we ignore, it becomes normal”. 

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