Anti-LGBTQ protests at Cork City Library aim to promote misinformation and fear and are not truly peaceful, according to a Cork City Councillor.
Cork City Library announced they were closing early on Saturday, July 29th, due to protests outside the library regarding the distribution of some LGBTQ+ books.
Cork City Councillor John Maher told Lunchtime Live libraries are “a safe place” and should not have to close due to protests.
“I don't think we should ever be closing public spaces,” he said. “People use the library – vulnerable people.
“Maybe they need it for warmth, they need company. Libraries are very diverse and they’re very inclusive.”
Cllr Maher, who was present at the protests, explained protestors were asked “respectfully” to remove an unauthorised banner from the library, but refused.
According to the Labour councillor, protestors have previously entered the library to film staff without their permission and verbally harass them.
Have written to @corkcitycouncil #CE #ArdMheara #librarystaff & @GardaTraffic - we need to learn from the mistakes of Saturday and never let the library or any other public space close again @echolivecork @irishexaminer @OpinionLine96 @NeilRedFM @PaschalSheehy #bród #grá #dóchas pic.twitter.com/RRytE3bBhQ
— Cllr. John Maher (@jmaher0) July 30, 2023
He said everyone has a right to protest peacefully in Ireland – but the protestors in Cork City on Saturday were not truly peaceful.
“I was there, and I didn’t find much peaceful about their actions,” he said. “There [are] intimidation [and] bullying tactics.
“I can raise my fist to you, and that’s seen as a threat – but now with a phone, we can do what we want, we can post what we want, we can call you what we want.
'A bigger agenda'
Cllr Maher said the protestors don’t really care “about any children or about any book”.
“This is just a little piece of what they’re trying to achieve,” he said. “They've got a bigger agenda here, and that's what we need to be worried about.
Cork City Council is a proud member of the Rainbow Cities Network
Cork City is hosting the Network Annual Conference from 17-20 January.
— Cork City Libraries (@corkcitylibrary) January 17, 2023
Cork LGBT Archive Founder Orla Egan was due to speak at an event in Cork Library on Saturday about art and activism, but the event was rescheduled to today following the library’s closure.
“The library had to close to keep the staff safe because the guards have not been doing their job,” she told the show.
“This harassment of Cork Library staff has been going on for months and months, and the guards are taking a really ‘softly, softly’ approach.
“You have the right to protest, but you do not have the right to harass staff.”
'Solidarity is so important'
Ms Egan said she is relieved Cork City Library continues to be an “LGBTQ+ ally” in the face of “intimidation.”
“They have an activist exhibition in the libraries this afternoon,” she said. “It's a celebration of social change activism, of queer activism, of feminist activism.”
Amid Cork City Library’s continued support for the LGBTQ+ community, Ms Egan said people need to return support back to library staff.
“[Protestors] are trying to sew divisions between us,” she said. “They're trying to link racism and homophobia and transphobia and pitch us all against one another.
“Solidarity is so important - allyship goes both ways.”
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