THE newly-appointed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has spoken out against the balaclavas worn by officers during Tuesday's eviction of housing activists.
Gardai have come under criticism after a group of officers stood in front of a property on North Frederick Street in Dublin city centre on Tuesday while a men in balaclavas from a private security group removed housing activists from the building.
The activists, who are from a group called Take Back The City, occupied the vacant building in protest of the ongoing housing crisis.
The organisation is a network of 18 grassroots activist groups who are "working together to take direct action" against Ireland's housing crisis.
Five of the activists were arrested for public order offences, with two due to appear before the Criminal Courts of Justice on October 2.
Four people were later hospitalised following the incident.
Drew Harris, who was appointed Garda Commissioner just a couple of weeks ago, released a statement on the incident today.
He said: "An Garda Síochána respects the right of people to protest peacefully.
"An Garda Síochána’s role at such events is to facilitate lawful protest while protecting the rights of others to do their lawful work safely – in this case carrying out an order of the High Court."
The full statement was shared on social media.
— Micheál Ó Tuathail 🇮🇪🇪🇺 (@mickthehack) September 13, 2018
He insisted that hoods should only be worn underneath a protective helmet if their use is "deemed necessary" and said a directive was issued today from the Deputy Commissioner to reinforce this requirement to all personnel.
The Garda Commissioner also condemned the alleged racial abuse of a member of gardaí during the protest.
Since the eviction, activists have argued that the private security firm responsible for the eviction may have been in breach of the law by neglecting to wear identification badges.
It was further reported by the Irish Times that the van used by the private security firm was not displaying a tax disc.