Growing concern at rise of political extremism, Drew Harris says

Growing Concern At Rise Of Political Extremism, Drew Harris Says
The Garda Commissioner was speaking after the burning of a hotel in Co Galway which had been earmarked for use by asylum seekers. Photo: Collins
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By Rebecca Black, PA

The Garda Commissioner has referred to a “growing concern” around political extremism.

Drew Harris was speaking just days after a suspected arson attack at a former hotel earmarked for use by asylum seekers in Co Galway, the latest in a series of similar incidents.


Appearing at the Policing Authority on Tuesday, Mr Harris described a “gutting” of the premises on Saturday evening, and said a full investigation is under way.

“We’ve had similar incidences, and we’ve had individuals charged with criminal damage in respect of such incidents as well,” he said.

“But I would say in terms of just Dublin, itself, we’ve had 52 persons arrested during the policing of protests and so we have been active in terms of making sure the law is enforced and then pursuing individuals after events as well.

“There is a perhaps growing concern, and this is a concern seen across Europe, in terms of the rise of political extremism, and protests and violence that follow and obviously, the far right are an element in that,”


Mr Harris said in the Dublin Metropolitan area this year to December 11th, there had been 585 protests.

He said 227 of those related to anti-immigration and housing refugees.

He added: “That’s a very considerable number of protests that have to be policed so that’s just a growing facet of our work together then with incidences at centres of accommodation for those seeking international protection.”

He went on: “There’s no evidence to suggest that there’s a co-ordinated effort, that there is some, in effect invisible hand or a guiding hand in terms of these attacks.


“The premises on Saturday night was very remote, very difficult to find, and regrettably, the suspects in respect of that are most probably living quite close in that area and we have to conduct an investigation. We’ll pursue the evidence but obviously we want to identify those who carried out such damaging attack, as we’ve done in other cases.

“I think it’s easy to blame some nebulous but ill-defined group who are in effect driving all of this from the centre, when actually this is a lot based on prejudice and ill-informed comment driven at a local level as well. There’s an element of that too.”

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