Opposing street thuggery in Dublin and incitement to violence

by Michael Nugent on February 9, 2016

The peaceful protest against the planned Pegida rally in Dublin on Saturday was a positive demonstration of how citizens should respond when they believe that a political movement is threatening our democracy. The street thuggery that happened beside it does not reflect the aims or methods of the peaceful protesters, and it undermines the campaign against Pegida. Violence, and incitement to violence, cross a dangerous line for human rights and democracy.

A group called Anti Fascist Action Ireland has admitted responsibility for the thuggery, claiming it was organised by the AFA, Irish republicans, anarchists, socialists and football casuals. Football casuals are better known as football hooligans, not primarily known for their political or human rights expertise. But, while the pseudo military terminology of the AFA statement may seem comical, it is describing organised criminal assaults on the streets of Dublin.

We should always strive to protect democracy and human rights, through a mix of civil society advocacy, public meetings, public rallies, political lobbying, direct involvement in politics, and legal challenges, while both respecting the role of the police in upholding the law, and opposing miscarriages of justice. We should do so peacefully, while respecting the rights of others to hold beliefs contrary to ours, as long as they do not take actions that infringe on others’ rights, and while we robustly criticise the content of their beliefs.

I have spent decades involved in such campaigns against IRA and loyalist terrorism, unlawful killings by the Irish and British States, other criminal activity, miscarriages of justice from the Birmingham Six to the Tallaght Two, political corruption including the European Investment Bank scandal, Catholic Church domination of Ireland’s laws and schools, the outlawing of contraception, homosexuality, divorce and abortion, and human rights abuses by Islamist States against Muslims and people of other religions and none.

I have always supported the right of others to promote their political beliefs peacefully and democratically, even when I strongly disagree with those beliefs and find them dangerous. For example, I opposed the IRA and Sinn Fein, and also opposed the Irish and British broadcasting bans against them. I believe the best response to bad ideas is better ideas, and I might discover during the process that I am mistaken about their ideas. But a line is crossed when any group moves from persuasion to violence, as happened in Dublin on Saturday.

Statement from Anti Fascist Action Ireland

This is how the Anti Fascist Action group described the criminal assaults on Saturday in a statement on their Facebook page.

“Over 2,000 people from all across the island took over the Pegida Ireland meeting point at the GPO from 1.30pm. This broad anti-Racist demonstration was supported by all the main left-wing political parties and migrant support groups.

There were separately up to 200 militants divided up throughout the northside of the city made up of AFA, Irish republicans from many groups, anarchists, socialists and a significant number of football casuals from the four main Dublin clubs.

Utilising key intelligence, the leadership of Identity Ireland/Pegida Ireland including Peter O’Loughlin and Ian Noel Peeke were confronted on the Luas (tram system) as they made their way into the city centre around 2.30pm. With their egos, among other things, battered and bruised – they quickly headed back to their cars at the Red Cow roundabout never even making it to O’Connell Street.

A group of around twelve Polish right-wing hooligans were then monitored as they met in their favoured pub Brannigan’s on Cathedral Street off O’Connell Street. This group attempted to head to the GPO but were routed and chased all the way down North Earl Street by a large group of militant anti-Fascists. Seeking temporary refuge at one stage in a ‘2 euro’ discount shop.

This group made it back to Brannigan’s where they were surrounded by anti-Fascists. Numbers were bolstered as hundreds sprinted up from the main anti-Racist demo. The fascists’ safety was only made possible by a large number of Gardai and members of the Public Order Unit who baton charged the crowd. The Garda Mounted Unit and the Garda Dog Unit were also deployed throughout the day.

A separate group of around seven Polish right-wing hooligans were physically confronted later in the day near the Jim Larkin statue on O’Connell Street.

Later in the afternoon, another group of around eight Polish right-wing hooligans were thumped and chased out of Murrays pub on O’Connell Street.”

Incitement to violence

I discussed these attacks on Twitter on Sunday, and I’m genuinely shocked that some people not only refused to condemn thugs attacking people on the streets of Dublin, but in some cases implicitly or explicitly endorsed it with language that could incite further violence.

Two psychological methods are commonly employed to justify or avoid condemning injustice. They were both used by some people on all ‘sides’ during the Northern Ireland conflict, and I saw them again in online discussions of Saturday’s street thuggery.

The first method is ‘What-about-ery.’ This involves avoiding addressing injustices by people who share your aims or your enemies, by asking ‘what about’ people on ‘the other side’ who also behave unjustly.

The other method is dehumanising the people who are being attacked by labelling them with the most extreme words you can use. In the context of Saturday’s attacks, some people have labeled the victims as ‘fascists,’ ‘Nazis,’ ‘scum,’ and (ironically in the context of supposed anti-fascism) foreigners.

Using those two psychological methods, some good people have said in conversation with me that chasing people off streets is fine, that hitting them is fine, that it was only a few slaps, that it wasn’t top of their worries, and that people aren’t too bothered if these people are beaten up.

I’m not identifying the authors, because I want to focus on their ideas, and because I believe that they mistakenly believe that they are defending democracy and human rights. I hope that they will come to realise that street thuggery is incompatible with democracy and human rights.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robert February 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm

There are very few people who do evil with the express intent of doing evil, there isnt an extremist alive who doesnt think they’re just being especially more good than other people and that their opponents arent the absolute truest deepest evil in the world.

It is incredibly disappointing and depressing, if not outright disturbing when those you have supported in the past and who have supported you in the past follow down this path but we cant be afraid to call it out.

2 J February 9, 2016 at 8:19 pm

You label the fascist organisers as victims here and you refuse to call them fascists. Do you not agree that PEGIDA is a fascist movement? The only way to stop far right fascist movements from developing is to meet them on the streets where they try to organise. I was at the protest, people stayed for hours to make sure the fascists couldn’t have their demo. The fascist demo was called off and the majority of them fucked off home, the ones that stayed did so knowing that there were poking the hornets nest and did so deliberately. If I was an active member of PEGIDA I would love this liberal trash article.

3 Shatterface February 9, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Football casuals are football hooligans on dress-down day.

It’s sad that there’s still a regressive fringe of anarchism that embraces violence (‘. Violence is coercion and is antithetical to the pacifist traditions of Tolstoy, de Ligt and the later writings of Emma Goldman.

Any social transformation you bring about through violence must be maintained through violence. Revolutions which begin in violence become bureaucracies that formalise that violence.

Rightly or wrongly (wrongly, I think) many anarchists refused to take arms even against the Nazis.

Most would accept violence as an option for self-defence (I certainly would) but to initiate violence to a political end is to employ the tactics of the state.

4 Ronan February 10, 2016 at 12:17 am

As the person who made the “few slaps” comment, I would like to mount a bit of a defence.
(1) The comparison to the troubles is neither here nor there. If they had shot or bombed the racists my opinion would be different.
(2) I do not think the fight was “protecting democracy or human rights “, but putting a band of racists in their place. Hence that objection Is redundant.
(3) Street thuggery is not incompatible with human rights and democracy, as is evident in every city in Britain and Ireland at pub closing time.

5 Shatterface February 10, 2016 at 1:15 am

(1) The comparison to the troubles is neither here nor there. If they had shot or bombed the racists my opinion would be different.

The loyalist and republican terrorist groups maintained control through violence and intimidation. The exact nature of that violence is irrelevant.

(2) I do not think the fight was “protecting democracy or human rights “, but putting a band of racists in their place. Hence that objection Is redundant.

I’m sure the racists share your belief that certain people ought to be kept ‘in their place.’ In fact, that’s their primary motivation.

(3) Street thuggery is not incompatible with human rights and democracy, as is evident in every city in Britain and Ireland at pub closing time.

By that reasoning murder isn’t incompatible with human rights and democracy because murders also happen.

The fact is this violence was politically motivated and violence towards a political end is not democratic.

6 Henry Fitzgerald February 10, 2016 at 1:41 am

In tracing how he came to be a Nazi, Albert Speer recalled his earlierst conscious memories of their street protests* – on which occasion the Nazis happened to be the victims. Speer’s first recollection of Nazis is that they were being hard done by, and on that occasion they probably were.

Street violence doesn’t just make the city a worse place, regardless of whether it’s done by the goodies or the baddies. It can be, and usually is, an own goal on the part of the side perpetrating it.

7 Phil Giordana FCD February 10, 2016 at 8:10 am

J #2:

“I was at the protest, people stayed for hours to make sure the fascists couldn’t have their demo.”

That sounds like a very fascist move. That’s what makes me laugh with so-called “anti-fascists”. You are as fascist, if not more, than the ones you oppose.

And for the record: no I do not endorse fascists, either from the Left or the Right. A plague on both their houses.

8 Ronan February 10, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Oh for Christ sake. Henry Fitzgerald , surprisingly ideological Nazis can tell self serving stories ! Street violence was a consequence of inter war breakdown and ideological struggle, not a cause.
Shatterface, Mick is telling a causal Story not normative. “street violence is incompatible with democracy and human rights” which is clearly wrong.
The Dawkins faction seem to think that rational debate and enlightenment values solely drive human progress , which is nonsense . Violence and centralisation of authority is as much (more) a driver of human progress as the weak tea of rationalism and secularism. This was as true in ending the troubles as it is in providing the Dawkins faction a space to think and debate great thoughts.
I remember when living in London the edl came to protest in the east end but were chased out of town by local Pakistani brit yoofs. Do people really think this was illegitimate ? That the only problem with Tommy Robinson is that he hasn’t heard a sophisticated enough arguments against his politics ?

9 Ronan February 10, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Also, ‘fascist’ has a very specific definition. Anarchists and leftists are not, by definition, fascist. Ive no real opinion on whether Pegida are. Leftists might be authoritarian, but they aren’t generally fascists.

10 Kira February 10, 2016 at 4:19 pm

@ J .

In all the videos I watched on social media, there were some fellows merely just walking down Grafton street who a bunch a thugs suspected yes suspected might of being supporters of Pegida , I didn,t hear them chanting slogans about anything nor did I see them carrying any placards making any statements, then the mob sets upon them .

You also state it was a fascist demo what exactly was fascist about it ? it was a protest against Islam nothing more.

Being critical of a religion is not the same thing as inciting violence against a miniorty group ; from time to time some groups protest against Scientology most political activists don’t care about it; but if someone dares to organise a public protest against Islam straight away right off the bat there is cries of racism and fascism etc but public protests against Scientology get a free pass without being labelled all those names ; I see that as ironic .

11 Kira February 10, 2016 at 4:46 pm

@ J.

Question for you, Anjem Choundary a British Islamic extremist came to speak at a platform in a debate in Trinity some years ago, there were no counter protests from the self proclaimed anti fascist protesters, also back in 2007 a Saudi preacher of hate came to visit Ireland, there were no protests from the self proclaimed anti fascists then either or no condemnation in fact only silence , if you re so worried about fascism/ extremism etc why don,t groups like Anti Fascist Action equally oppose Islamic extremists who preach hatred ?

http://www.politics.ie/forum/current-affairs/22035-saudi-hate-preacher-ireland.html

12 Shatterface February 10, 2016 at 4:49 pm

The Dawkins faction seem to think that rational debate and enlightenment values solely drive human progress , which is nonsense

I missed the part when Dawkins showed up. Is their footage of this? Or is it just more smears by association?

13 Shatterface February 10, 2016 at 4:54 pm

I remember when living in London the edl came to protest in the east end but were chased out of town by local Pakistani brit yoofs.

And if those same Pakistani ‘yoofs’ were to chase homosexuals from those same streets would that be legitimate?

Is it legitimate for them to police women so they behave ‘modestly’ and are ‘appropriately’ dressed?

14 Shatterface February 10, 2016 at 4:58 pm

And yes, rational and enlightened debate do drive human progress.

They don’t necessarily drive the future but that’s not necessarily the same thing.

If you want a future which is worthy of the name ‘progress’ you can’t achieve that through regressive means.

You can’t thug your way to a better future.

15 Ronan February 10, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Shatterface, if a group of homosexuals was coming to forcefully recruit them into gayness, or rhethoricise a specific, aggressive stance against their ethnicity/ religion and protest against THEM (as per the edl) then yes, they should fight back. They shouldn’t attack random gay people in the street though anymore than they should do Tommy Robinson if them spotted him having a coffee. Different things dude.
Pegida were looking for a scrap and I believe people should get what they want, when possible .

16 Ronan February 10, 2016 at 7:18 pm

And look, I’m not saying anything about the specific question of large scale immigration from Muslim countries. I think at its current (or realistic future) rates it’s generally fine, but there are questions leftists ignore about (1) disproportionately male migrants and the values they bring, and (2) at what scale do those values begin to seriously undermine liberal values in the west .
Problem is we’re stuck in a situation with a left trapped in political correctness, a radicalising right wing, ayatollah Dawkins post lobotomy, and a disengaged centre.

17 Kira February 10, 2016 at 7:24 pm

@ Ronan-if they wanted a scrap as you put it, one would think that by logic they would of came with some weapons on them to use against other people, which they didn,t do , so how were they looking for a scrap ?

18 Henry Fitzgerald February 10, 2016 at 7:43 pm

@Ronan – Speer is more likely to be misremembering than lying in this case, although either is possible. But he was never an “ideological” Nazi, and it’s hardly an implausible story. In the modern world – the one we’re actually living in now and not the Wild West you think we’re living in – street violence is a turn-off for most people and a poor advertisement for the people seen to be instigating it.

“I remember when living in London the edl came to protest in the east end but were chased out of town by local Pakistani brit yoofs. Do people really think this was illegitimate ?”

Yes, of course it’s illegitimate. I have a hard time seeing how anyone can think it isn’t. “Yes, we took the law into our hands and started beating people up, but that’s okay, the victims were bad people…” can you really not see the downside to allowing this feeble justification to pass unchallenged?

19 Shatterface February 10, 2016 at 11:44 pm

Shatterface, if a group of homosexuals was coming to forcefully recruit them into gayness

What the ever-loving fuck are you on about now? The far right are press ganging people to join them now? That’s how they are increasing their numbers?

Pegida were looking for a scrap and I believe people should get what they want, when possible .

You want to give racists what they want? You really heading towards ‘women in short skirts are asking for it’ territory now.

The reason most modern anarchists reject the mob is we hold the individual responsible for their own moral choices.

Individuals are capable of morality; mobs are not. To join a mob is to surrender autonomy to an external authority. Individuals are rarely evil but most are capable of cruelty when they surrender to someone else’s authority. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a riot in the street or the latest Twatter witch-hunt, the dilution of responsibility that entails is a rejection of the autonomy anarchists believe is our birthright.

20 Ronan February 11, 2016 at 8:39 am

Shatterface, it was an example of when fighting a group of gays was excusable, not a direct analogy. I would say that I don’t think anarchism or the church of Dawkins goes very far in describing the world , we’re tribal, group forming people (look at organised atheism and its cultish aspects) not radical individualists.

But Shatterface, henry and kira, I don’t have time to continue this at the minute, and might not be back with longer answers to your points, but just want to say you’re a good bunch, not only in comparison to those generally connected to dawkinism and the grand ayatollah, but all round exemplary interlocutors

21 Nialler February 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Depressing stuff indeed.

The statement as quoted is far more revealing than the writers will have intended. The repeated use of the word “Polish” is indicative as the euphemistic “football casuals”.

22 louis walsh March 6, 2016 at 2:12 am

I am a member of Pegida Ireland. I joined as soon as I got home from the rally in Dublin. I am not the only one who signed up for the same reason. As soon as the speeches began I knew there was going to be trouble. It was inevitable…..Freedom of speech is dead in Ireland and most of Europe now. Jews are leaving Sweden , Germany and France and it has nothing to do with the far right or Pegida. Thousand , Tens of thousands of muslim are being subjected to FGM and that has nothing to do with Pegida. Journalists in Sweden are being sent to prison. It has nothing to do with Pegida And when Germany starts to balkanise and fall apart it will have nothing to do with Pegida….and Germany IS going to start fragmenting soon.
If people keep on calling everyone a fascist / racist and shutting down all reasonable and honest debate there WILL be fascism in Europe and it will be too late for Pegida to stop it.
What are you going to do when the blood starts flowing on the streets of Europe and the slums of France start to burn because that’s what’s comming and it is going to come soon…Pegida did not create the ghettos where Muslims have been left to rot as third class citizens and a reserve of cheap labour. On the same day as the mob rioted in Dublin Pegida UK was launched and one of the people standing by the side of Tommy Robinson was a black ex muslim . If you are immigrant , black or jewish you will be welcomed into Pegida Ireland and if you have leadership skills I personally will nominate you as leader. If you are a muslim who is opposed to sharia law I will beg you to join Pegida Ireland ……But don’t let this simple fact get in your way….just keep calling Pegida and everyone else fascist/racist. It is much easier to do that than to stop , think and accept the fact that something has gone very wrong in Europe…..and that , by the way , had nothing to do with Pegida.

23 Christian Cross September 4, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Winston Churchill quote.The Fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists. I am very concerned with the anti Christian, anti Irish,anti White rhetoric,that is evident across the world for the past decade at least.Do you know that Black Lives Matter,is funded by a Globalist,White,Jewish billionaire with a dubious Nazi history.Groups like those mentioned above are part of the Che Guevara school of thought.Guevara was an open racist.Marxism is their ideal,Marx opposed immigration. Both the far Right and fare left exist only because of the other.AFA support Islam ideals,yet reject Hitler and Nazi ideals.I think that both far right and far left need to lay off whatever they are smoking and put away the hate.Both groups are victims of mainstream media and global indoctrination. Whatever cause they think they are fighting is a huge false flag.I pray they finally find the strength to question why the world is in such a mess and stop contributing to the Globalist agenda.

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