Gardai were forced to draw batons as an angry "Anti Lockdown" protest tried to break through barriers to St. Stephen's Green in central Dublin. Fireworks and bottles where thrown on Grafton Street before the crowd marched around the city center and finished up at the GPO in O'Connell Street. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie.
By Anthony Neeson
Gardaí are expecting to make more arrests in the coming days of those who took part in disturbances in Dublin city center on Saturday.
Three gardaí were injured with one hospitalized following clashes during an anti-lockdown protest where fireworks were fired at police lines. More than twenty protestors have been arrested to date.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said those who took part in the illegal gathering will face legal sanctions.
After the riot, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that far-left groups had taken part in the demonstration. However, he later withdrew the comment saying, “The vast majority of those who took part belong to a number of factions including anti-vaccine, anti-mask and anti-lockdown protestors, far-right groups, and those intent on trouble and disorder.
“Despite initial indications, following further investigation, there is no corroborated evidence of extreme left factions being involved.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin condemned the violence on the streets of the Irish capital.
“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 behavior or attacks on the gardaí, who have the public’s utmost respect as they continue to protect and serve our society in difficult circumstance.
“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 to restore order.”
Speaking on Newstalk, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, branded the disturbances “a riot."
“There’s no excuse for using that kind of violence to advance a political cause, no matter what that cause,” he said.
Later on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, described the events during the clashes as “thuggery."
“Yesterday wasn’t legitimate protest,” he said. “It was people who were intent on thuggery, and violence, and intimidation of the Guards and the State. When someone is firing a rocket or firework from a few meters away from guards, that is not appropriate.”