Free Speech Rally in Dublin met by counter protest
A Free Speech Rally in Dublin was met by counter protesters on Saturday as both sides converged on Dail Eireann in a tense standoff .
The Free Speech Rally organised by the Yellow Vest Ireland , Renua Ireland , Irish Freedom Party and Direct Democracy Ireland numbering some two hundred supporters waved tricolour flags and held signs criticising government plans to introduce new speech laws next year .
Counter Protesters gathered accross the Road in Similar numbers some waving Communist flags and holding banners of the extremist Antifa movement , dressed in black with faces covered over , gardai were forced to restrain a number of counter protesters as they attempted to cross over to attack the free speech supporters .
The Counter Protest was organised by Mark Malone of the Irish Association of Volunteers and Development Workers (Comhlámh) and the Solidarity Alliance against Racism and Fascism (SARF) . Mr Malone , a graduate of NUI maynooth was the founder of the Seomra Spraoi centre in dublin which regularly hosted meetings of the anarcho communist organisation Workers Solidarity movement , Revolutionary Anarcha-Feminist Group (RAG) and the Abortion Rights Campaign . Mr Malone had previously worked for the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) , a Brussels based lobby group funded by George Soros's open society initiative for europe fund and the EU Commission .
Mr Malone's Counter protest group - SARF - included members of over 100 NGOs including Galway Pro Choice , Abortion Rights Campaign ,Trans and Intersex Pride , Extinction Rebellion , Antifa Ireland , Queer Action Ireland , Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland , Mandate , UNITE ,Fórsa , the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) , Womens Council , INTO , Islamic foundation of Ireland , Transgender Equality Network Ireland , African solidarity centre , Movement of Asylum seekers in Ireland , Sex Workers Ireland , People Before profit TDs , Brid Smith , Gino Kenny and Richard Boyd Barrett and over 100 NGOs in Ireland .
Below : Counter Protest group SARF outside Dail Eireann , Kildare Street Dublin
Supporting the Free Speech Side was Renua Ireland who warned of the consequences of the government's proposed speech laws .
The government is planning to bring in a new censorship law disguised as a law against 'hate speech' . In practice it will make it illegal for people to openly express opinions that may offend the feelings of another group of people. This is really an attempt to censor citizens freedom of speech by people who dont want to be asked awkward questions . Who benefits from hate speech laws . Cowardly politicians who dont want to answer difficult questions will benefit. They will be able to shut down debate on controversial issues or government policies.
Free speech means that no vested interest or social groups are above criticism . It forces people to be open and to develop solid arguments to defend themselves from difficult questions . For example free speech and open debate was essential to allowing people to challenge the notion of slavery and to secure the right to vote for women , even though these ideas deeply offended some groups
Free Speech Protects people from being persecuted by the state for expressing controversial ideas or criticising government policies . For example , free speech allowed Irish people to argue and speak out in favour of the idea of Irish Independence even though the idea was deeply offensive to some gorups .
As long as free speech does not advocate criminal activity , it allows the free exchange of ideas , allows problems to be identified , helps people see different perspectives and find solutions to problems.
Below : Free Speech Supporters Hold Banners Criticising Governments Proposed new Speech Laws