Clash of the Sinners

Written by Sarah Garvey

Topics: Irish News

Tensions were high today in the National University of Ireland, Galway, as the Gardaí responded to an impromptu protest on campus.

Four members of the increasingly controversial Christian Soc displayed poster boards in the halls of NUIG’s Concourse, which the general student population found offensive. The posters encouraged a “No” vote in an upcoming campus referendum on marriage equality and warn that allowing gay people to marry is just a slippery slope to government-sanctioned incest and paedophilia.  (Click to Enlarge).

Via @wearerabble

The members are running Enoch Burke, of Castlebar, for the position of Equality Officer in the upcoming student elections. Enoch, who enjoys irony and campaigns against both gay marriage and Senator David Norris, will no doubt make an excellent Equality Officer.

The students were asked to move on by their peers but refused to do so. Soon, they were surrounded by about 200 pro- gay marriage students, who attempted to remove the posters.

An account from Wil Organ, who witnessed the events:

Things got heated, when on displaying their posters which linked gay students to pedophilia. One individual pulled down their posters, a struggle ensued, and the table got knocked over. At this point, many students started gathering and declaring their disdain for the Burke family’s message. The Gardaí were called by the Burke family, who wished to have their right to lobby for the NO vote maintained.

The Gardaí arrived shortly after this, and on hearing the Burke family’s side of the story, the Gardaí took the student’s side and asked them to leave, declared that their posters were slanderous to Irish citizens, and removed most of the posters themselves. Two members of the Burke family threw themselves in the way of one remaining poster dramatically, the Gardaí rolled their eyes and left, stating that this was a matter for the campus security to deal with. The crowds of students gathered around at this point were cheering and celebrating, and were looking at the Burke family with ridicule. The Burke family, instead of leaving, decided to stage a standing protest, which they engaged in silently.

At about 3.30pm, things began to heat up again with the arrival of members of the NUI Galway Christian Union Society, and the previously silent Burke family now began exclaiming their rhetoric of linking homosexuals to pedophiles. The crowd of remaining students were encouraged not to engage with them by Maria O’Flaherty, auditor of ShoutOut Soc, but some people booed and shouted for them to leave. The counter-protesters then began to sing “All You Need Is Love” over and over and engaged in a sitting protest in front of them.

At about 4.30pm, with the arrival of hundreds of new onlookers, the protesters began to complain about their stand being destroyed and their voices silenced. So the crowd responded to that and shut up. Leaders of the counter protest encouraged them to vocalise what their message is, and the crowd obliged. They mainly spoke about how pissed off they were that their posters were removed along with their voices, and that marriage would slip into ruin if gays were to marry. Once they were done, several members of the crowd were allowed to talk, a few apologised for the individual that originally knocked their stand, and explained that these posters and their agenda seeks to remove not only their voices, but their rights as tax payers. The Burkes & Christian Union began shouting down the crowd members, and control of the situation shifted into chaos. Eventually this democracy was restored and the two groups began to communicate and discuss what exactly they were doing right now and that the Burkes should just leave campus.

This all died down at about 6pm… (Full text here).

With the Guards gone, Burke and his contemporaries were left clutching a single poster dramatically, like the last life-preserver on the Titanic.

Ever creative, GigSoc (Gay in Galway Society) then staged a fake wedding between two of its members in front of the poster, to much applause. Paedophile Soc were unavailable for comment.

This is not the first time religious groups and the students have bickered in NUIG. Lest we forget.

For more on the Burkes, see this excellent article by Rabble. Also, The Journal.ie.

Update – The referendum passed overwhelmingly in favour of gay marriage.

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