Cork hotel drops far-right Polish debate as locals protest 'fascist views'
A Cork hotel has refused to host a debate between rival right-wing Polish presidential candidates following widespread opposition.
A number of left-wing groups had planned to stage a demonstration outside the Ambassador Hotel in Cork on Sunday, where Marian Kowalski, the Presidential candidate for Ruch Narodowy (The National Movement) was due to debate independent candidate and Euroscpetic Grzegorz Braun.
The hotel however has since cancelled the event, doing so “in the interest of their reputation” said local Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O’Brien.
The first stage of the debate however is still due to go ahead in the Academy Plaza Hotel on Findlater Place in Dublin City.
Speaking to Independent.ie, deputy O’Brien said Mr Kowalski’s policies supported a “racist and supremacist ideology” and that “his views were not reflective of the Polish diaspora living in Cork.”
“We were deeply concerned that our city was to host an organisation which is basically an umbrella group for neo-fascist and ultra conservative elements within Poland,” he said.
“The group [The National Movement] has a long history of racism and homophobia, and while I am all for free speech, there is responsibility that comes with that.”
Asked if there had been calls for the Ambassador Hotel to cancel the event, Mr O’Brien said he was unaware of any such attempts.
“We never asked for the event to be cancelled, nor do I believe anyone tried to do so. I was contacted by the hotel earlier today to say that they had reconsider hosting the event, and were cancelling it in the interest of their reputation,” he said.
“Our intent all along was to show that the views espoused by Kowalski are not ones shared by the people of cork.”
The presence of Mr Kowalski in Ireland has proven controversial due to his claims that people of different ethnic backgrounds should be separated.
Campaigning against what it calls “liberal-leftist propaganda”, his group the National Movement uses nationalistic symbols, black uniforms and “supremacist ideology” to strengthen what they call “Polish national identity”.
A Facebook page advertising the event says Polish people in Ireland have been “condemned to live a life outside or homeland” and encourages people to listen to the views of both men.
Organisers of the counter-protest entitled ‘Dublin Says No to Fascism‘ say they intend a peaceful picket at the Academy Hotel in Dublin, whose staff told Independent.ie that they could not comment on whether the Polish presidential debate would go ahead tomorrow.