Wednesday 27th of September at 7pm there was a sizeable protest outside The Gables Guest House and Leisure Centre in Newbridge. Locals were voicing their concerns after a busload of foreign men were spotted taking up residence in the building.
The crowd sized around 400 people with locals of all ages in attendance.
The crowd chanted “Newbridge says No” and they also had homemade posters that said “Overrun and Under resourced”, “Look after our own. Health education and housing.”
There was notable support from passing traffic with some passers-by parking their cars and joining the protest.
The anger in the air was palpable as a small group of Gardaí kept a low-key presence next to the crowd. A local man stood on a rock at the entrance of the complex and addressed the protest. He promised that they were going to be back in bigger numbers and that this was not going to be a once off; they are “going to be consistent”.
We spoke to some locals and this is what they said…
A local man who wanted to remain anonymous: “I have a beautiful innocent 9 year old daughter and I want to protect her innocence. That’s why I am here tonight. After seeing so many foreign men come into the area it has me deeply concerned”
He also informed us another local was told by their boss not to come to the protest tonight or their job would be at risk.
A local woman called Noreen said “the people of Newbridge are angry because they were not told about this and they were lied to; hey were told it was women and children coming but it’s not – its all men.”
“Elderly people are afraid to walk in the nearby park and teenagers are afraid to walk to school in the morning because they don’t know who these men are.”
“This was formerly used as emergency accommodation for Irish people and they were moved out to Athy so that these men could be brought in.”
This is a promising development for anti-plantation activism as a relatively small rural town came out in such large numbers to challenge the significant influx of migrants into their area. Also, judging by some of the chatter we heard amongst the crowd, the locals are under no illusion of what’s really going on here and what the agenda truly is. It is clear that these locals are not going to be so easily swept aside by the false promises of gombeen politicians like we have seen elsewhere in the country.