23 arrested after Dublin city centre violence, McEntee condemns 'mindless thuggery'

TWENTY-THREE people have been arrested following a violent disturbance in Dublin city centre today. A garda was taken to hospital after being injured as protesters demonstrated against Covid-19 restrictions.

Three gardaí were injured in the clashes and 23 people have been arrested.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told RTÉ News that while gardaí had a planned operation in place for a protest in Dublin today, some people arrived "obviously intent on violence".

"They engaged in attacks on members of An Garda Síochána including, as we can see on social media, the throwing of a firework-type device," he said.

He said a firework was directed at a garda but he was not seriously injured.

"We are fortunate we did not suffer a serious injury. It was only the member's quick thinking that saved him," he said.

"You don't carry fireworks to a protest for any other purpose than to engage in violent conduct," he added.

Commissioner Harris said operations are continuing and there will be a full investigation to bring perpetrators to justice.

A Garda Statement said:

"An Garda Síochána put in place a policing operation in relation to gatherings planned on social media by disparate groups to take place in Dublin City Centre. In support of this operation a number of public spaces in the city centre were closed to prevent any gatherings taking place.

"The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended are currently in force.

"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.

Speaking this evening Commissioner Harris stated, "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.”

Justice Minister Helen McEntee condemned the violence, descriving it as "mindless thuggery"

“I have spoken to the Garda Commissioner this evening and he has told me the disturbance in Dublin is being brought under control.

“I know there have been a number of arrests already today and a special court sitting is being arranged to make sure these law-breakers are prosecuted speedily. I understand fixed charge notices have also been issued to a number of people.

“I want to commend the courage and professionalism of the Gardaí on duty today in Dublin who responded with great control and discipline in an extremely challenging situation.

“This situation was completely unacceptable and was an insult to so many who have worked so hard in the fight against Covid-19 and to those who have died.

“This mindless thuggery showed a wilful and blatant disregard for the public health rules which are needed to help us all and keep us safe.”

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