Thousands of people joined the Ireland For All solidarity march against racism and recent anti-immigration rallies this afternoon.
Dozens of organisations attended the protest which began at Parnell Square this afternoon, including the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU), the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO), and Community Action Tenants Union (CATU), as well as political parties including Sinn Féin, Labour, People Before Profit, and the Social Democrats.
Speaking to Trinity News at the demonstration, TCDSU President Gabi Fullam said “it’s incredibly important to support those that come from vulnerable positions”.
Fullam added that it was vital “to form a cohesive stand against misinformation, fascist right wing lies” and against “the actual problems of our housing crisis, which are vulture funds and otherwise not refugees”.
She highlighted that immigration issues affect access to education for many, pointing to challenges faced by postgraduate students and workers in securing visas.
“We’re fighting for an equal world and that’s why we’re here today,” Fullam added.
Vice President of Trinity branch of PWO Eoghan Ross also highlighted these educational barriers, including “discriminatory practices” regarding non-EEA students such as “unfair” visa application processes.
He added that PWO was joining the march to protest problems faced by students and researchers across the board, “with housing, with access to health care, with any form of services”.
“The state has completely failed us. It has failed those that we are trying to bring into this country to make it a more vibrant and innovative country, and they need to be told that that will not be tolerated anymore and that change needs to happen today.”
Children and families were among the huge crowds in attendance at the demonstration. Protestors led chants in solidarity with refugees and migrants as they marched from Parnell Square to Custom House Quay.
Addressing protestors from a stage erected in front of the Custom House, activist Ailbhe Smyth said “it is so thrilling and heartwarming to see thousands and thousands and thousands marching today”.
“It sends one huge message to government that we mean business”, she added.
Smyth said that the “the hatred and misinformation spewed” by far-right protestors in recent months is “driving a wedge in working class communities”, and declared “we will not stand for that”.
Speaking after Smyth, veteran campaigner and civil rights activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey rejected the anti-immigrant slogan: “Ireland is full”.
“Before ‘an Gorta Mór’ [the Great Famine] there were 8 and a half million people on this island – and back then we didn’t have multi story flats.”
“Our problem is not that we have no room; it’s that we have a crisis of property, a crisis of capitalism,” McAliskey told the crowd.
“Ireland’s population is 2 million short of what it was; there’s plenty of room for 2 million more.”
Others who spoke also refuted the rhetoric of recent anti-immigration protests and decried misinformation and “far-right lies”.
Leon Diop, founder of anti-racism organisation Black and Irish told the diverse crowd of protestors “this is the Ireland I want to be part of”.
Darragh Adelaide, People Before Profit representative for Clondalkin said: “Ireland belongs to everyone who calls it home.”
The protest also featured performances from Christy Moore, Adam Mohamed, Steo Wall, Smilez and others.
Additional reporting by Aidan Cusack