IRISH POLICE have described being pelted with “fireworks, missiles and spit” during the chaotic scenes that unfolded in Dublin city centre on Saturday.
Anti-lockdown protesters clashed violently with gardai in a series of running battles that left four officers injured with one hospitalised. A total of 23 demonstrators were also arrested following the unrest on Dublin’s famous Grafton Street.
Gardai closed down access to St Stephen’s Green in an attempt to block protesters from entering the park. Huge crowds began to form on Grafton Street, with hundreds turning out to voice their opposition to the Irish government’s ongoing lockdown restrictions.
They were greeted by a large garda presence, with officers on hand to keep demonstrators at bay. However, the tense stand-off soon exploded into violence after protestors began aiming fireworks and other items at the officers blocking their way.
In one widely shared video, a man was shown letting a live firework off at a Garda office at point blank range. That prompted officers to break ranks in an attempt to bring those involved into custody. Officers have provided a timeliNe of how the chaotic events unfolded in Dublin.
A garda spokesperson said: "From approximately 1:30pm persons commenced to assemble in the Grafton Street area in breach of Public Health Regulations.
"An Garda Síochána has been consistent in our graduated policing response (engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce) to supporting Public Health Regulations and guidelines in line with our tradition of policing by consent. Garda members engaged with the gathered individuals over a considerable period of time.
"Following continued and orchestrated non-compliance with Public Health Regulations and failing to comply with directions from An Garda Síochána, the gathering became violent on occasions with members of An Garda Síochána targeted with fireworks, missiles and spit.
"Gardaí were forced to intervene. 23 persons have been arrested under Public Order Legislation. 3 Garda personnel were injured during the incident. One required hospital treatment for his injuries.
"The policing operation initially involved approximately 125 members of An Garda Síochána, Uniformed Personnel, Plain clothes, Public Order Units, Garda Mounted Unit and Garda Dog Unit. During the course of the operation further resources were redeployed from across the DMR region in support.
"The arrested persons were transported to City Centre Garda stations.
"A special Sitting of Dublin District Court will take place this evening in the Criminal Courts of Justice, Parkgate Street at 8pm where a number of the arrested persons will be charged."
Maybe it’s time to take the far right seriously? Here’s a Fascist demo from this afternoon on Dublin’s Grafton St. Note the use of explosives & that they came armed. pic.twitter.com/pjmpRnZc6X
— Dr Robert Bohan Artist (@RobertBohan) February 27, 2021
Commenting on the unsavoury scenes witnessed, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris slammed those involved in the protest and has confirmed a major investigation is now underway.
He said: "An Garda Síochána have made 23 arrests so far in relation to the disturbances in Dublin City centre today. A major investigation is now underway to seek and bring to justice those that have committed offences today. Gardaí have also noted a number of individuals outside their home without a legitimate excuse.
"This was a protest that sits outside the normal behaviours of our society. These are not mainstream groups, the great majority of our society are compliant with the regulations and are living within these regulations in order to supress COVID-19.
"An Garda Síochána responded in a professional manner today which resulted in calm returning to the city centre.
"We will maintain an active presence in the City tonight to ensure that the City Centre remains safe and secure tonight.”