opposing groups | 

Pro and anti immigration protesters clash on Bridge of Peace in Drogheda

Chanting and placard waving then commenced and insults were shouted between the opposing groups

A banner at the protest

Conor FeehanIndependent.ie

A garda had to intervene in a clash between anti-immigration protesters and a pro-immigration counter-rally on the Bridge of Peace in Drogheda today.

Around 60 anti-immigration protestors had gathered on one side of the bridge in the Co Louth town at 2pm today to find a counter-protest of around 30 people had gathered on the opposite side.

Chanting and placard waving then commenced and insults were shouted between the opposing groups.

Cathal O Murchu of the Irish Freedom Party told the anti-immigration side that his party wanted a “common sense policy towards immigration” and the government to “look after Irish citizens and not prioritise foreign people”.

“Come the next election we will get a landslide of candidates in here. We’re going to be the new government, or at least the opposition,” he added.

Prominent anti-immigration activist Malachy Steenson also addressed the gathering of protestors, repeating what he said at a rally in Dublin last week that the group had “shifted the political ground in the country”.

“The simple fact is that we do not have the capacity to take in any more people. We’ve 100,000 children waiting on medical health assessments.

“We’ve overcrowded schoolrooms. We have a huge shortage of houses. We are telling our own young people that they can be educated here and then they can get on a plane because they can’t buy or rent somewhere to live,” he added.

As he spoke, members of the pro-refugee counter rally on the other side of the bridge chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here”, while members of the anti-refugee side shouted: “Get them out” back at them.

Mr Steenson also said that a major protest is being planned for Dublin city on St Patrick’s Day.

As the protest wound down a small number of anti-immigration protestors brought a large banner into the roadway and stopped the traffic on the bridge.

At this point one of the counter-protestors walked towards them and grabbed the banner before running away with it and trying to throw it over the bridge.

He was chased by anti-immigration protestors and a scuffle broke out at the railings of the bridge between members of both groups.

Gardaí had been keeping a watch on the proceedings, and when the clash occurred, a garda on a motorcycle broke up the scuffle.

The anti-immigrant protestors eventually got their banner back and crossed back to the side of the bridge they had been protesting on.

Insults were exchanged between both sides and the situation became tense. More gardaí arrived and observed both sides as the anti-immigration protestors moved across the bridge towards Drogheda town, standing at the roadside with their banners.

The protest lasted about an hour in total before both sides slowly dispersed.

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