HUNDREDS OF demonstrators have defied the warnings of Health Minister Simon Harris to gather outside the US embassy in Dublin, in a show of solidarity with protests in the US.
Protesters gathered at the US ambassador’s residence in Phoenix Park, and at the Spire on O’Connell Street in the Irish capital in a demonstration against racism and police brutality against people of colour.
Similar protests took place in Galway, Limerick and Waterford as part of worldwide demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week.
The events saw attendees march for justice in the case of Mr. Floyd while calling for an open and honest dialogue about racial inequality in society.
Held under the banner of Black Lives Matter, the protest is the third to take place in Dublin in the space of less than a week.
Last Sunday, protesters held a socially-distanced protest outside the US embassy.
The following Monday, hundreds again took to the streets of the Irish capital, marching from the GPO over to the US embassy.
Very respectful atmosphere at the protest today. Felt like a wake & oddly comforting to mourn the racism & violence we see happening with others. Thanks @merj_ireland @masi_asylum for organising. #BlackLivesMattter #EndDirectProvision pic.twitter.com/XwYDhyXXuj
— Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin (@aoibhinn_ni_s) June 6, 2020
George Floyd’s name was chanted during the protest, while a minutes’ silence was also held outside the US embassy.
This latest protest was organised by Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) along with Black Pride Ireland and Migrants and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ).
It went ahead despite opposition from Health Minister Simon Harris who expressed concern about attendees remaining socially distant from one another.
“I abhor racism, so do people in this country. It’s not who we are,” Mr. Harris told reporters.
— MASI - Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (@masi_asylum) June 6, 2020
“And I think we are all disgusted, sickened, horrified, when it comes to the death of George Floyd, some of the scenes that we are seeing in other parts of the world.
“And also conscious that we have to get our own house in order in calling our racism here in Ireland.
“But regardless of your cause, and regardless of how just your cause is, now is not the time to have a mass gathering. And at the moment the rules are very clear about how many of us can congregate outside – it’s four, at a safe and socially distant way.
“So, if there’s four people at the American embassy safely and socially distanced, that’s in line. If there’s more than that, it’s not.”
— Sorcha Pollak (@SorchaPollak) June 1, 2020
Despite the Health Minister’s concerns, organisers were careful to urge those in attendance to wear face masks, bring hand sanitiser and stay socially distant from one another during the demonstration.
Organisers also handed out personal protective equipment, as part of a variety of measures implemented to ensure as much social distancing as is possible.
— MERJ Ireland (@merj_ireland) June 6, 2020
Picture shared online from the day’s demonstrations suggest the protest went off without incident and with those in attendance largely keeping a safe distance from one another.