Tens of thousands of people gathered in Dublin city center for an anti-racism and pro-refugee march on Saturday afternoon.
The Ireland For All march began at Parnell Square at 1:30 p.m. and finished with a rally at the Customs House with music and speeches.
Organizers estimated that 50,000 people took part in the march, which was organized in response to a series of anti-immigration demonstrations that have taken place around the country in recent weeks.
A number of groups participated in the march, including United Against Racism, the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), Forsa Union, the National Women's Council, and several political parties.
Demonstrators carried placards with slogans such as "love triumphs over fear" and "refugees are welcome here", while chants of "when migrants are under attack, stand up fight back" could be heard throughout Saturday's march.
Incredible show of solidarity today at the Ireland for all march.— Philly Mc Mahon (@PhillyMcMahon) February 18, 2023
Powerful feeling walking along the march from the back to the front to meet Ballymunforall at the top end. Got to see the true magnitude of the numbers and diversity ❤️
Well done everyone#Ireland4All pic.twitter.com/TpB1spPciJ
Veteran civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAlliskey addressed the rally at the customs house.
"If you are not on the side of equality and rights for every human being, there is no other end to the road you are on than fascism," McAlliskey told the crowd.
McAlliskey added that Saturday's rally was a good start but said it is only the start.
McAlliskey told RTÉ News that there is plenty of room in Ireland for refugees and said the problem is the way the country is organized.
Legendary Irish musician Christy Moore also attended the rally and told the crowd he was in attendance to express his revulsion at recent attacks on refugees and asylum seekers.
Moore concluded with a performance of "Viva la Quinta Brigada" - a song in tribute to the Irish men who fought against fascism during the Spanish Civil War.
Traveller activist Rose Marie Maughan described recent anti-refugee protests as "shameful and disturbing".
"It’s not who we are as an Irish nation. 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. I’m here as an Irish Traveller woman to say I see you, I respect you, you are welcome," Maughan told the crowd.
Leon Diop, who founded the activist group Black and Irish in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, quoted John Hume in his address, stating that "difference is the essence of humanity".
"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 told the crowd.
"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."
Thousands turn out for Ireland for All march in Dublin pic.twitter.com/L4owe7dyy9— Jade Wilson (@jadeswilson) February 18, 2023
According to the Irish Times, the Irish State is currently providing accommodation to over 52,000 people from Ukraine and 19,300 asylum seekers from other countries, a sharp increase from previous years.
That increase has fueled several anti-refugee protests at accommodation centers across the country.
One incident saw a group of men with dogs, sticks, and baseball bats attack a migrant camp in Dublin last month, while a man was arrested last month for threatening to burn down a hotel housing refugees.
The Ireland For All solidarity march was organized in response to such anti-immigrant incidents.