Irish National Party delegate says he ‘feared for his life’ as anti-fascists stormed conference

Party members were forced to barricade themselves inside a function room at the hotel as protesters tried to force their way in

Anti-fascist protesters at Lough Erne where the conference was being held

Police at the scene

The five-star Lough Erne resort

Richard SullivanSunday World

A delegate at a trouble-hit far right conference said he feared for his life at the hands of anti-fascist protesters.

Trouble flared as the annual conference of the Irish National Party got under way at the five-star Lough Erne golf resort last weekend.

At one point party members were forced to barricade themselves inside a function room at the hotel as protesters tried to force their way in.

It is understood protesters from the Belfast Anti-Fascist Alliance – some of them armed with batons – tried to force the door open, repeatedly bashing it with fire extinguishers.

Police and ambulance crews were called. A number of people suffered minor injuries requiring hospital treatment and one man appeared in court this week in connection with the incident.

Last night a party delegate described how he and a number of others “ran for our lives”.

“It escalated so quickly,” the man, who asked not to be named, told the Sunday World.

“There was a lot of shouting and yelling and before we knew people were being attacked, I saw a number of people being pushed to the floor.

“The hotel staff were caught on the hop. I remember thinking there is no one here to put a stop to this, I firmly believe had they got their hands on us we could be talking about serious injury or worse.”

Police at the scene

He denied the gathering of the Irish National Party was controversial – despite their far-right policies which include anti-immigration and anti-mask wearing.

“We are a legitimate organisation and we were simply holding our annual conference,” he said. The conference resumed after police cleared protesters away, but he said people were left “badly shaken”.

In a statement, the Anti-Fascist Alliance said a number of their members along with “socialist republicans” had gathered for what they described as a “legitimate protest”.

“Witnesses report that the violence occurred after NP security directly attacked female protesters, causing some injuries. The NP members fled into the conference room and locked the doors. Minor damage to the door occurred. The NP later claimed five members were hospitalised,” said the statement.

The five-star Lough Erne resort

The group said there were many questions around the staging of the event. “It has to be asked how a tiny party, which is regularly humiliated in elections and with no elected reps anywhere, can afford a showpiece ‘ard fheis’ in a fancy suite at a five-star golf resort.”

The statement claimed that the Lough Erne Resort had tried to “gloss over” the fact that they facilitated a meeting of an openly homophobic, anti-immigrant, misogynist, fascist meeting.

“They have questions to answer. In Ireland, hate speech and fascist politics have always provoked a swift response from militant anti-fascists. That will not change. There is no hiding place for fascists.”

The Fermanagh resort said it will “increase due diligence” on its private events.

The spokesperson said function rooms were hired out “in good faith” and the hiring out of private event space by any third party did not represent an “endorsement of any kind”.

Dubliner Daniel Comerforde (34), of Mac Uilliam Heights, was released strict bail on Friday after being accused of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to a male.

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