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Beware temptation to restrict protests to make our lives easier

Eoin O'Malley


We may not like or agree with other people’s views or indeed their tactics, but in a democracy they need to have their rights protected 

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Gardaí form a line on Grafton Street during an anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine protest in Dublin city centre earlier this year. Picture by Damien Storan

Gardaí form a line on Grafton Street during an anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine protest in Dublin city centre earlier this year. Picture by Damien Storan

Gardaí form a line on Grafton Street during an anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine protest in Dublin city centre earlier this year. Picture by Damien Storan

Twenty years ago the city government in Madrid, tired of protest marches disrupting activity in the city centre, made a bold proposal. They were going to move protest marches to an authorised site away from the city. I think it was to an unused airstrip. There the protesters would be free to protest as much as they wanted, and the city centre would be freed from the regular disruption to people caused by protests. Genius!

It was eventually rejected. I can’t remember why the proposal got rejected, but hopefully it was because moving protests to a ‘safe space’ that particular phrase didn’t exist back then denied the protesters any potential power.


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