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'We will bring perpetrators to justice': Anti-lockdown protest condemned after injuries and arrests

Three gardaí were injured at the Dublin protest this afternoon, with one needing hospital treatment.

AN ANTI-LOCKDOWN protest in Dublin city centre this afternoon has been widely condemned by the gardaí, politicians, and other groups.

23 people have been arrested and a special sitting of Dublin District Court is lined up to take place at 8pm. 

The gathering breached public health restrictions and turned violent at times.

Three gardaí suffered injuries, one of whom needed hospital treatment for a broken ankle.

anti lockdown 7576 Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Speaking this evening, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that “you don’t carry fireworks to a protest with any other purpose than to engage in violent conduct, as we saw today, and it’s with regret that has to be said”.

“But we will follow through with an investigation and bring perpetrators to justice. We have already made 20 arrests and inquiries will continue into this matter and a senior investigating officer has been appointed,” Harris said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that he “utterly condems” the protest, which “posed an unacceptable risk to both the public and gardaí”.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Similarly, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was “horrified to see this on our streets”.

“Irish people have spent last year fighting Covid. There is no excuse for violence to gardaí or anyone,” he said on Twitter.

“This behaviour on Grafton St by a selfish few undermines sacrifices that millions have made in the last 12 months.”

Tweet by @Leo Varadkar Source: Leo Varadkar/Twitter

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the 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.”

Leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald described the protest as “reckless”.

She said the actions were a “slap in the face to the people of this city and beyond who have made huge sacrifices over the last year”.

“Shocking and disgraceful scenes.”

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said it is ”utterly horrifying to see our members being placed under incredible stress, pressure and danger”.

AGSI General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham said that “these types of protests are completely unacceptable and show a wilful and blatant disregard for all members of An Garda Síochána on duty today”. 

“To see missiles being deliberately fired and directed into our unarmed members is truly shocking and highlights the dangerous and intensive element of policing this part of Covid-19,” Cunningham said.

“We wish our injured colleagues and their families well.”

President of the Garda Representative Association Frank Thornton said he condemns the “acts of aggression directed towards gardaí in Dublin today”.

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“Our members were endangered and the whole of society was attacked by people who had no regard for laws created to protect the lives of citizens,” Thornton said.

Le Chéile, an alliance of left-wing parties and organisations such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NCWI) and the Peter McVerry Trust, said that the “scenes on Grafton Street show the ugly face of the far-right in Ireland”.

“They have been seeking to capitalise on the frustration felt by many with the government’s Covid strategy,” Le Chéile said.

“Their violence on Grafton Street today, in putting many people in danger with bats and fireworks, gives a glimpse of the danger that they present.”

Around 5oo people took part in the demonstrations today. 125 gardaí were initially involved in the operation, with more sent out during the afternoon.

Gardaí are maintaining an active presence in the city centre tonight, but the situation has been brought under control. 

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