Gardai (police) were called to break up disturbances at a political meeting in Dublin called to discuss Ireland’s immigration policy.
Members of Identity Ireland, which advocates for tighter immigration controls and an exit from the European Union, gathered at Jury’s Inn Hotel on Parnell Street to hear an address from the group’s founding member Peter O’Loughlin.
Some of a crowd of 60 started heckling O’Loughlin, who last year failed in a bid to be elected to the European Parliament. The hecklers accused him of propagating racist ideas.
The protestors, from the Anti-Racism Network Ireland, started a chorus of We Shall Overcome and turned their chairs away from the presentation area.
The Irish Times reported that scuffles broke out and hotel security was called. Two men were seen exchanging head-butts and some people attempted to prevent others from leaving the room.
A number of other hostile confrontations occurred before a group of at least six Gardai arrived to quell the unrest.
O’Loughlin told the paper he was “hugely disappointed” that he wasn’t afforded the opportunity to explain his policies to members of the public, and said he never expected such scenes would arise. He said further meetings would be held at various locations across the country.
Shane O’Curry, director of the European Network Against Racism Ireland, believed Identity Ireland would likely face similar resistance across the country.
“As a network we’re not prepared to stand by and allow racist discourse to be heard in the public sphere,” O’Curry said.
Identity Ireland, which was established last year, has been likened to Britain’s right-wing UKIP due to its hardline Eurosceptic stance and opposition to immigration.