Students protest against Nick Griffin Debate Participation

Frances Mulraney

Controversy is mounting in Trinity College Dublin as the Philosophy Society extend an invitation to Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, to speak at a debate in late October. Mr Griffin is to speak for the motion “This house believes that immigration has gone too far.”

Many groups are calling for the invitation to be revoked as one of the other speakers has already refused to participate if Griffin is to remain as a speaker. John Palmer, who’s on the governing board of  the European Policy Centre and Deputy Chairperson of its Political European programme, withdrew from the debate telling the Irish Times that the participation of Griffin is completely “unacceptable”.

The University Times, one of Trinity’s student newspapers, also reported that the committee of The Phil itself is divided on the issue.

Kurt Nickholaisen, of the Love Music, Hate Racism group has criticised Trinity Student Union for not allowing them to organise a concert for the day Griffin will speak.

A protest is set to take place, however, between the Socialist Workers Student party, SVP, Labour, Sinn Féin, LGBT, Islamic groups and others working full time in Trinity College. Madeleine Johansson, a member of the Socialist Workers Student Party and the Anti-Racism network, spoke to the College View about the protest. The protest is for anybody who’s against facism. According to Madeleine, it is unacceptable to provide such a stage to Mr. Griffin. Trinity college is reknowned all over the world and taking part in this debate “gives Nick Griffin confidence, respectability and will encourage those with the same opinions as him to act upon them.”

Donal Mac Ghara, also a member of the Socialist Workers Party agreed with her. He claimed that it was time for the Phil to think about what kind of name they were creating for themselves and they should withdraw the offer. Madeleine finished by saying we should be celebrating our multicultuaral society instead of sending a message to the world that we are unwelcoming with Nick Griffin’s presence.

A Facebook page was also created in protest, “No platform for Nazi Nick Griffin in Dublin”. At the time of writing the page has 568 likes.

In a comment to the Irish Times, the Phil defend their actions as they are providing a balanced debate, presenting both sides of the argument, ”The Phil is a neutral forum for discussion. We do not endorse the views of any of our speakers. Nick Griffin has been invited to speak solely on immigration. He is a prominent speaker on this issue. The debate will be balanced, with two guest speakers on each side of the motion.”

This isn’t the first time the society had caused controversy due to its choice of speaker. Chaotic scenes following the arrival of convicted holocaust denier David Irving in 1988.

As leader of the BNP, Griffin’s views on immigration involve offering incentives to immigrants and their descendents to encourage them to return to their country. In a trial in 2006, he argued that describing Islam as a “vicious, wicked faith” and comparing asylum seekers to cockroaches all came under the realm of free speech.

The Phil Society and BNP were both contacted but unavailable to comment at the time of writing.

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