Gardai attended the d Hotel in Drogheda on Monday night, as a handful of people tried to disrupt Labour leader Ivana Bacik TD’s Town Hall meeting, titled ‘Ireland for All’, with anti-refugee and anti-vaccination questions.
There was no garda intervention needed, and the small cohort was silenced by the positivity amongst the rest of the 100-strong audience, and even though their questions were described as ‘disgraceful’ by an attendee, the rest of the meeting passed off peacefully, with chair Mayor Michelle Hall taking control admirably.
“Despite attempts from a handful of loud voices from anti-vaccination and anti-refugee campaigners to disrupt the meeting, the vast majority of those who attended made it clear they came to listen to the Labour leader outline her vision for the party and the country,” said Louth TD Ged Nash, who also spoke at the meeting.
“The early part of the meeting was interrupted by interventions from a small handful of attendees who had particular views on the Covid-19 vaccination programme and migration, among other matters. Some left after a short period, others stayed and listened respectfully and with interest to the discussion on the economy, Labour’s ambition for a better national health service and our plans to better protect the Boyne.”
Mayor of Drogheda Michelle Hall said the overall meeting was hugely positive and successful, and although everyone is entitled to voice their opinion at a public meeting, hate speech will never be tolerated.
“I said at the start we have to be kind and courteous to each other and that there would be no hate speech. And there will be zero tolerance for intimidation of public representative, and that was the tone that was set at the beginning,” said Mayor Hall. "There were more respectful people there than dissenters, and we will listen to everyone, but if you're going to promote hate speech, that can't be tolerated in a civil or democratic society.”
Monday evening’s meeting was the culmination of a whistle-stop tour of Louth and East Meath by the Labour leader, visiting the Red Door Project in Drogheda where Cllr Pio Smith introduced her to the team that deliver vital addiction support services to local people, at the centre.
There was also a visit to the Tredagh Lodge day care centre on the agenda for the Labour Leader who visited the Drogheda Alzheimer’s Society-run facility which delivers care to those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Earlier in the day, the Labour leader was hosted by Cllr Elaine McGinty at the Sonairte ecology centre and rounded the trip to the region off with a visit to DKIT, a place where her father lectured for many years, to hear about the impressive work students are undertaking there and the institute’s plans to become a Technological University.
In her key-note speech, the Labour leader Deputy Bacik highlighted some national issues that particularly affect Drogheda. “Too many parents are unable to find suitable childcare or early years education places and too many workers remain on low pay or insecure pay and are often stuck in traffic jams - which is a huge issue right here in Drogheda - without access to decent public transport options,” she said. “On economic policy, our Budget and cost of living measures would have put this country on a pathway to delivering a truly equal society. That is the sort of Ireland, we in the Labour Party want to see; an Ireland that works for all.”
Mayor Hall said she was delighted to see the party leader come to Drogheda, as it is traditionally a Labour town. "In my address, I spoke about Mickey Bell (Michael Bell, a Louth TD from 1992 to 2002) and the fact that Labour is the party for workers,” she said. “People want an alternative and in one way, Ivana’s speech was a bit scary at how broken Ireland is, but Labour has policies we want implemented to make life better for everybody in Ireland.”