The Lord Mayor of Cork has said there is no question of a book at the centre of protests at Cork City Library at the weekend being removed and called on gardaí to “step up their game” over the actions.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy said a protest on Saturday over LGBTQ+ books had “very much overstepped” the mark, with the library forced to close after a banner was mounted across the entrance.
The independent councillor told Newstalk Breakfast that putting up the banner without permission was not right and that those responsible had been “moved on” by gardaí. The banner stated ‘there are only two genders: male and female’.
He said Cork City Council had been in touch with An Garda Síochána to ask the force “to step up their game” with regard to the protests which were “very unsettling” for library staff.
Staff liaised with gardaí at the weekend and it was decided it would be unsafe for library staff to attempt to remove the banner. The library closed at around lunchtime on Saturday “in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of the public and library staff”.
Around 60 to 70 people attended the anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration outside, with a counter-demonstration held nearby.
One of the books the protesters are objecting to – This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, was not on prominent display in the library, said Mr McCarthy.
“There’s been many books that have been targeted over the years in various libraries over many decades. But this is a step too far. There are procedures in place for people to complain about certain books,” he said.
The head librarian had undertaken a review of health and safety at libraries in the wake of the protests, he said.
Later on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr McCarthy pointed out that a small group has been involved in repeat protests and have targeted a number of libraries around the country.
Following the protest at the library, a number of people went to a selection of bookstores in Cork city asking that the same book be removed, he added.