Dublin deployed more than 300 police officers amid a massive march against the push for mass migration – and a counter-protest – in Ireland’s capital city on Monday. 

According to The Irish Independent, 11 people were arrested amid the demonstrations. The newspaper estimated between 500 and 700 people, including women and children, participated in the march opposing mass migration into Ireland that began at the Garden of Remembrance and continued on to Custom House for speeches from members of The Freedom Party.

The marchers and a group of counter-protesters, who billed themselves as opposing racism, reportedly shouted at each other through a line of gardaí, or police, on O’Connell Street as tensions rose. Police continued to monitor the demonstrators as the march moved through the city center and a police helicopter hovered overhead. 

“A significant policing operation was deployed in Dublin city center. Gardaí had to police a challenging environment, with a number of public gatherings organized and attended by persons with divergent and opposing views while also managing the rights of citizens to enjoy the amenity that is Dublin city center,” Chief Superintendent Patrick McMenamin said, according to the Irish Independent. “Despite the challenging environment and the intensity of opposing interactions, particularly on O’Connell street, the events passed off primarily peacefully.” 

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According to the newspaper, a boy, accompanied by his father, lead a chant near the Custom House: “Ireland for the Irish.” 

“Barnstorming speech by Irish Freedom Party president Hermann Kelly to 10,000 Irish patriots in Dublin. We need to take back political power from Anti-Irish globalist Establishment,” the Irish Freedom Party wrote on X, sharing video of Kelly’s speech before a cheering crowd of people waving Ireland’s flag. 

Kelly spoke against the “colonization” of local communities and noted the “increase in criminality” seen in London and across other areas of Europe promoting mass migration. 

Dublin protester holds Irish Lives Matter poster

Protesters at the Garden of Remembrance, in Dublin on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. Ireland has seen a rise in protests at buildings across the country earmarked to house migrants. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

“The number of Muslims across Europe has increased dramatically, and it’s very grave, dangerous for European civilization,” he said, claiming he knows people who were victimized in “random Islamic attacks.” 

“This increase in crime is coming very, very quickly, and it’s going to be personal,” Kelly said. “What we want is to be a free people and a free country. What we want is personal freedom and national sovereignty.” 

Speakers opposed Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Sinn Fein, according to the Irish Independent. 

A father was heard explaining to a young girl near O’Connell Street, “This is because of all the undocumented men.” Photos from the march showed many carrying “Irish Lives Matter” signs.

The newspaper also described how marchers circulated copies of The Irish Patriot. 

Irish Lives Matter march in Dublin

Protesters take part in an “Irish Lives Matter’ march at the Garden of Remembrance, in Dublin on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

On the cover, it read, “Censors And The Tans”, and “Imposing the New Plantation”.

The front of The Irish Patriot included a photo of Varadkar and read, “Increasing police heavy-handedness against peaceful protesters is giving a vicious twist to Ireland’s asylum crisis.” Other stories on the front page were titled, “Schools Brainwashing” and “Activism For Ireland. Exposing the asylum scam.” 

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Another page of the free newspaper included a picture of an “Ireland is Full” poster, according to the Irish Independent. 

Ireland has since had growing tension over the past several months amid efforts by government officials aligned with the European Union perceived as accommodating more migrants and refugees despite a cost of living crisis at home. It was not until late December that it was announced 50-year-old Riad Bouchaker, a man from Algeria who later became a naturalized Irish citizen, was charged with attempted murder in the Nov. 23 stabbing attack on a woman and three young children outside a primary school in Dublin’s city center, the BBC reported. 

Ireland is full sign in Dublin

Protesters take part in the Ireland Says No anti-refugee gathering outside The Custom House in Dublin on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. ( Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Bouchaker, whose name was not immediately released, had been hospitalized after passersby intervened, beating the knife-wielding man away from the woman and children. Immediately after the attack, Dublin erupted in violent protests overnight opposing a mass migration influx, and police blamed “far right” groups online for fanning the flames. 

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In the aftermath of the riots, the Irish government also began pushing an anti-hate speech law largely condemned by critics as an affront to free speech and as possibly going as far as criminalizing the possession of memes against mass migration or otherwise deemed politically offensive. 

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