ONE GARDA has been hospitalised and three other officers injured following a series of angry clashes with anti-lockdown protesters in the centre of Dublin.
Hundreds of demonstrators descended on the Irish capital to speak out in opposition against the government’s Covid-19 restrictions. Protesters carrying a banner calling for the ‘Right to Freedom’ could be seen during the demonstrations, while there were repeated chants to "end the lockdown".
The demonstrations began at 2pm on Saturday, February 27 with those involved congregating around Dublin city centre before attempting to move on to St Stephen’s Green. They found their route blocked off by a heavy garda presence with officers redirecting protesters away from the park and down onto Grafton Street.
Protesters had hoped to gather on the green as part of the protest but found the gates had been closed by the Office of Public Works at the request of gardaí. Luas operator Transdev also stopped services running through the St Stephen's Green stop because of the protest.
Tensions eventually boiled over on Grafton Street when a man appeared to aim a firework at Gardaí. That sparked off a series of running battles as Garda officers attempted to bring the situation under control.
23 people were arrested following the clashes and a special court sitting was held on Saturday night. According to RTÉ 12 men and one woman were brought before Dublin District Court, charged in connection with protests. All were granted bail.
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
Micheál Martin condemned the anti-lockdown protests, which were met with similar condemnation across social media. The Taoiseach also praised An Garda Síochána for their efforts in containing the situation.
"I utterly condemn the protests in Dublin city centre today, which posed an unacceptable risk to both the public and gardaí," he said in a statement.
"The large gathering, in the face of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, showed a complete lack of respect to the people who have made huge sacrifices during this pandemic.
"Nor can we tolerate the thuggish behaviour or attacks on gardaí, who have the public's utmost respect as they continue to protect and serve our society in difficult circumstances.
"There can be no justification for the march or the violence that unfolded, and I pay tribute to members of An Garda Síochána who moved quickly to make arrests and restore order."