Hundreds march in solidarity with Cork library staff after vile abuse over LGBTQ+ books

Cork library demonstration

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Cork, Ireland, to march in support of Cork City Library staff after they suffered abuse and intimidation by far-right groups over LGBTQ+ books.

On Friday (7 June), around 400 people turned up to show solidarity with library workers, who have faced harassment from far-right protesters who object to the library stocking LGBTQ+ reading material.

Library staff have been subjected to verbal abuse – including being called “paedophiles” – and being videoed without their consent, with multiple Gardaí reports of people entering the Grand Parade Library and even filming themselves destroying a copy of trans author Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay

Friday’s demonstration was part-organised by Irish trade union Fórsa to show support for Cork library staff and demand increased workplace protections. The march saw hundreds walk from Cork City Library to City Hall, holding union banners and rainbow flags.

While an anti-LGBTQ+ counter-protest did take place nearby, it was attended by fewer than 20 people.

Richy Carrothers, Fórsa’s head of local authorities, said his union’s members need greater protection from hateful protesters and explained that the demonstration was about both workers’ rights and LGBTQ+ solidarity.

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“Our members are at risk in their place of work,” Carrothers said, as reported by GCN.

“We have asked local authorities to undertake an immediate health and safety risk assessment of public libraries, and the threat posed by such protesters at libraries.

“Harassment must not be tolerated, and Cork City Council must act to discharge their responsibilities as an employer under health and safety legislation.”

Carrothers went on to say that the tactics used by those harassing library staff are “straight out of the American far-right playbook” when speaking to Morning Ireland. 

Speaking to Morning Ireland, Carrothers also highlighted that the tactics used by these far-right protesters are “straight out of the American far-right playbook as far as we’re concerned”.

Across the US, right-wing hysteria over books for children that mention LGBTQ+ issues has led to bans on reading material and teachers facing censure for reading LGBTQ-inclusive books to pupils. It isn’t just LGBTQ+ literature that has been the subject of outrage, with some parent groups calling for bans on books that discuss issues of race and even the story of Anne Frank.

“What is most disturbing is almost the indifference of some in the local government management system… Because they haven’t acted in any way that would stop this,” Carrothers continued.

“So, the failure of the management to act means that we have had to step up to the plate in order to protect workers … It’s also an equality protest in terms of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Among the 400-strong crowd were senator Jerry Buttimer, Socialist Party councillor Brian McCarthy and Socialist Party and Solidarity Teachta Dála Mick Barry, along with Irish Council for International Students executive director Laura Harmon.

In March, Cork library staff confirmed that they will keep queer books on the shelves despite the intimidation they have faced.