Earlier last month the self-styled fascist ideologue Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (better known by his pseudonym ‘Tommy Robinson’), the former leader of the ultra-right-wing English Defence League, and Peter O’Loughlin, the founder of the Irish anti-immigrant and anti-Islam group Identity Ireland, joined forces to bring PEGIDA’s German and continental brand of neo-Nazism to Ireland. At a meeting in Dublin at the end of last month Robinson (a convicted fraudster currently awaiting charges pertaining to a common assault) and O’Loughlin announced a rally in the city to launch PEGIDA Ireland on 6 February to coincide with a Europe wide “day of action against Islam.”

Responding to this threat from a largely imported far-right (most of the PEGIDA supporters’ accents were English and Scottish), an anti-racist counter demonstration was organised for the same date and location; bringing together various political and activist groups including the Anti-Racism Network Ireland, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the Anti-Austerity Alliance, and the Irish Communist Party. Shortly after three in the afternoon the festive atmosphere of the counter-demo was shattered when about fifteen PEGIDA thugs attempted to storm the GPO. Within moments of the attack they were repulsed and sent running – scurrying – east along North Earl Street to the safety of the Garda public order cordon.

One small group of PEGIDA supporters was chased into Cathedral Street where they found shelter close to Brannigan’s Pub, wedged between two lines of riot officers, Garda dog handlers, and mounted police. As this was happening it was reported that one RTÉ cameraman was hit by a Garda baton, although later in the evening the Journal.ie was eager to hint that this was the doing of the anti-racism protesters and the anti-Islam group (as though they usually work together on these things). It may be worth pointing out that the only reporters actually on Cathedral Street, where the five members of PEGIDA were finally arrested, were Seán Ryan (author of the Roaring and Shouting blog), a photographer from Rabble.ie, and our Random Public Journal team.

All five members of PEGIDA on Cathedral Street, who appeared to be the leadership, were eventually arrested and hurried away in a riot-squad van in the direction of Cathal Brugha Street, but members of the Gardaí on the scene declined to comment on whether or not this was an ‘arrest and release’ for their own safety. Meanwhile on O’Connell Street a small group of perhaps twenty PEGIDA supporters were hemmed-in at the Grand Central Bar on the corner of Abbey Street. Here two separate police lines held off the anti-racist protestors on the LUAS line and the remnants of a clearly routed PEGIDA at the Grand Central. At about five in the evening, without further trouble, what remained of the right-wing rally gave up the ghost and dispersed into the crowd.

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