More than a dozen Gardaí were on duty in Cork city this afternoon, where opposing groups of demonstrators faced off at the Grand Parade.
Two demonstrations were held today in the city centre, with upwards of 700 people in the area at around 2pm.
A crowd of more than 500 attended an anti-racism rally which began at noon, while a substantially smaller group gathered at an anti-immigration demonstration an hour later.
The numbers at both rallies dwindled substantially but core groups remained in place in the area for several hours before eventually dispersing.
There were scuffles on Cork’s Grand Parade at Saturday lunchtime when about 200 anti-immigrant demonstrators confronted counter-demonstrators from a much larger group calling itself Cork Says No To Racism.
Great turnout in Cork City 🙏 #IrelandForAll #RefugeesWelcome pic.twitter.com/JWW1pJ7eFo— Frank O'Connor (@frank_oconnor) March 4, 2023
There were noisy scenes as a stalemate developed and gardaí kept the two groups apart, as both sides attempted to drown each other out with loudhailers.
The larger group had met at noon at the National Monument, and a crowd of more than 500 people heard that Cork is a welcoming place with no place for racism.
At the #CorkForAll demonstration with @CorkGreens colleagues.— Oliver Moran (@oliver_moran) March 4, 2023
A large attendance, massively out-numbering those not welcoming the diversity Ireland now represents. A very strong demonstration that Cork stands for #DiversityNotDivision. 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/GBEB3JEkpW
At Anti-Racists Anti-fascists gathering #Cork #DiversityNotDivision @desondy @drpatrickegan pic.twitter.com/J7FSnuNnEx— Orla Egan (@OrlaEgan1) March 4, 2023
There was a friendly, family atmosphere at the monument for almost an hour, with a brass band playing and musicians and singers entertaining the crowd.
Down the Grand Parade, a smaller group had gathered outside the City Library on the Grand Parade, rallying behind banners reading “House the Irish, not the world”, “Cork says no” and “End the plantation”.
Just before 1pm, a small number of anti-immigrant protestors went toward the monument and clashed with members of the larger group.
At one point in the confrontation, a row was defused by Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent, who was part of the rally against racism and persuaded one young man to return to the group outside the library.
Approximately a dozen gardaí arrived shortly after that incident and kept the groups apart.
The stalemate is ongoing, with extra gardaí arriving just after 2pm.