DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Faithful in Ireland are outraged after the official charity of the Irish Catholic bishops supported a pro-LGBT, pro-abortion protest.
Two opposing demonstrations formed Saturday in Dublin outside Leinster House, the building complex that houses the Republic of Ireland's parliament.
Representatives of Trócaire, the Irish bishops' international charity, participated in a "Rally for Peace," organized by the Solidarity Alliance against Racism and Fascism (SARF). SARF stated the rally was a response to "increases in hate crime and hate speech in Ireland, which are linked to an increasingly well-resourced far-right."
Among participants of the Rally for Peace were the Transgender Equality Network Ireland, Galway Pro Choice, Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin and Outhouse-LGBT Community Resource Centre, among many others.
Far-left agitator group Antifa took part in the demonstration, as did Sex Workers Alliance Ireland — a group promoting the normalization of prostitution. Protesters shouted cheers such as, "We stand together," "Go home, fascists" and "No more hate, enough is enough."
An opposing rally trumpeted patriotism, nationalism and freedom of speech. Participants waved the Irish national flag and other patriotic emblems, chanting, "Hail Free Speech."
One member of the free speech rally carried a placard reading "Not Far-Right — Just Right So Far."
Free speech demonstrators were outraged to see Trócaire among their opponents across the street.
"I have a direct debit with Trócaire that I'm cancelling on Monday," one demonstrator told Gript News. "They've collected money from me for years to help people suffering under repressive regimes, but now they want to silence Irish people."
Trócaire tweeted it was "delighted to support the Rally for Peace at Dáil Éireann" (Irish parliament's lower house).
It characterized the rally as "speaking up for love and unity, not hate and division."
Catholics on Twitter slammed the charity organization for backing a partisan left-wing rally. Many Irish Twitter users warned they were ending their donations to Trócaire.
"I won't be giving to you this Christmas and am now cancelling my standing order," said one Twitter reply.
I won't be giving to you this Christmas and am now cancelling my standing order— Catholic Knights (@CatholicKnight4) December 14, 2019
Another person wrote, "That's the end of the Trócaire box in our house."
That's the end of the Trócaire box in our house.— Vic Nolan (@VicNolan1) December 14, 2019
The Trócaire box is a small cardboard box distributed to Catholics, who keep it in their homes throughout Lent so they can make donations during the penitential season.
Three people were arrested at Saturday's opposing demonstrations.
Left-wing anarchist group Workers Solidarity claimed Saturday's Rally for Peace was a targeted effort to block the "far-right rally" from its intended location, relegating the free speech demonstration to a spot across the street. Some claimed the free speech rally included some racists and extremists.
But the Rally for Peace was hardly peaceful, with some accusing Antifa of attacking women and young girls.
One Twitter video shows a mother with a crying child accusing Antifa activists of attacking her daughters, while a witness explained what she saw:
The ones that were standing outside the Dail that were attacking free speech [Antifa] ... They came over and attacked one man that was standing with his kids, and the wife tried to stop them, they were kicking his hat off him in the road; and the guards came over and arrested the woman and let the savages run off.
A video shared online Saturday shows Antifa activists trying to surge across the street toward the free speech demonstrators. But police officers — with help from SARF rally organizers — pushed the masked Antifa members back to the sidewalk.
Irish free speech advocates are concerned by talk of cracking down on "hate speech" in the Emerald Isle.
In October, Ireland's Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he would like to see new laws banning hate speech. He said this as the government was in the initial stages of considering possible revisions to hate speech laws.
Though technically an update to existing legislation, some fear new hate speech laws will restrict freedom of expression for Irish citizens.