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Irish politicians condemn ‘disturbing’ death of George Floyd

TDs spoke of their horror at images emerging from America.

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A man with a face covering walks past a mural depicting George Floyd during a protest over the death of Floyd Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after he was pinned at the neck by a police officer. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man with a face covering walks past a mural depicting George Floyd during a protest over the death of Floyd Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after he was pinned at the neck by a police officer. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man with a face covering walks past a mural depicting George Floyd during a protest over the death of Floyd Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Los Angeles. Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after he was pinned at the neck by a police officer. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Politicians in the Dail have expressed widespread condemnation over the death of George Floyd and police brutality in the US.

TDs spoke of their horror at “disturbing” images emerging from America as protests sweep across the country following Mr Floyd’s death.

Mr Floyd was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.

He died after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck, sparking days of protest.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he was “pretty disturbed and shocked” by the images.

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Simon Coveney (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Simon Coveney (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

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Simon Coveney (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

The Tanaiste told the Dail: “What everybody wants to ensure is that peaceful protest is part of any democracy as well as the need for robust and independent journalism, but violence is not the way to bring about change.

“What is needed is leadership at community level and political level, but the undercurrent of anger and discontent that clearly has come from concerns around racism and discrimination has created a huge wave of protest, some of it violent, across US cities.”

Fianna Fail’s Sean Haughey described the images as “disturbing”, adding that his party condemns discrimination and racism “of any kind”.

“People must have the right to protest peacefully and the use of violence and force must be condemned,” Mr Haughey said.

“Government at all times must act democratically and in the best interests of all its people.”

However, his party colleague John Lahart called for the Government to express stronger condemnation over Mr Floyd’s death and the policing of subsequent protests.

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A Black Lives Matter protest outside the US embassy in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

A Black Lives Matter protest outside the US embassy in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

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A Black Lives Matter protest outside the US embassy in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“Surely our Government has more to say than that about the appalling use of Tasers, rubber bullets, tear gas, brute force,” he said.

“The truly stomach-churning – from any reasonable person watching it – paramilitary style of policing that we see on the streets of the United States – have we nothing to say about that?”

Fianna Fail’s James Browne asked if Mr Coveney had spoken to the US ambassador to Ireland, Edward Crawford, to condemn the protests.

Mr Coveney said he had not spoken to him yet “but it doesn’t mean I won’t”, he told the Dail.

Labour TD Brendan Howlin criticised US President Donald Trump’s Bible photo op close to the White House earlier this week.

Mr Howlin called for Mr Coveney to schedule a conversation with the US ambassador.

Green Party TD Steven Matthews said it was not enough “to pay lip service”, adding: “Where we see racism, we must call it out.”

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said: “Rubber bullets, tear gas, cavalry charges, hit and run attacks, protesters shot, journalists shot, medics gassed, brutalised and much more.

“At least two people have been killed and over 10,000 protesters have been arrested.

“People are being maimed by the police, many have lost an eye or more. Even children are being shot, gassed and pepper-sprayed.

“Trump’s authoritarianism is deepening by the hour. He’s declared that anti-fascists are terrorists and he will deploy ‘heavily armed soldiers’ against the protesters.”

It came as a Black Lives Matter protest due to take place in Dublin next week was cancelled.

Gardai said they were investigating a protest held earlier this week amid concerns over social distancing.

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