Rally for Peace on Earth organised to counter far-right ‘Free Speech Rally’

Over 30 organisations have lent their support to a rally organised to voice concern about the rise of the far right in Ireland. The Rally for Peace on Earth is due to take place on Saturday 14 December as a counter to a planned “Free Speech Rally”. 

In a press release Celtic Fans Against Fascism has described the upcoming counter-protest as “our time to stand up”. 

Free speech?

Far-right activists have planned the “Free Speech Rally” to protest the mooted updating of Ireland’s hate speech laws. On the Facebook page for the event, it’s argued that the rally is “Non-Partisan” and has been arranged to:

Fight Charlie Flanagan and Fine Gael’s attempt to control what we can and cannot say. No pretext is justifiable to limit speech, “hate speech” or otherwise.

The page administrators also go on to claim that the updated laws will be used to clamp down on criticism of the government. It’s asserted that:

The fear is the government will introduce hard-line legislation to prosecute political decent [sic] to the FG/FF governments that have caused such calamity across Irish society 

Trying to divide Ireland

The Rally for Peace on Earth is being organised by Solidarity Alliance Against Racism and Fascism (SARF), United Against Racism, and the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR). They have argued that the “Free Speech Rally” is actually a far-right protest. On its Facebook page it’s written that “the far right are mobilizing in Dublin for hate and division on 14th December”. It’s stated that:

Sadly today, the far right are trying to divide us. They prey on our concerns about housing, job security and health care. They try to pull us apart with divisive tactics, and distract us from working together for positive change. They try to get us to blame others and fight each other instead of campaigning against the causes of poverty, exclusion, corruption and austerity. They seek to divide because they have no solutions. 

The rally is being organised in the “spirit of the festive season, and to stand up for an Ireland where everyone feels safe and welcome”. 

Stand up!

Galway Anti Racism Network (GARN) has asked people to attend the rally. And it has called on them to “stand up to the far right and politics of hatred!”.

Celtic Fans Against  Fascism has stated that the far right and fascists in Ireland are coming together “under the false banner of ‘free speech’”. It wrote that Irish Republicans have a history of anti-fascist activism. And for this reason they write:

This is our time to stand up.

The government is accepting submissions from the public regarding its review of hate speech legislation until 13 December.

Submissions as part of the consultation process can be made here.

Featured image via Unsplash – Matteo Paganelli