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Garda association seeks urgent meeting with Commissioner and Minister over anti-lockdown protest

Garda McCarthy said there was “clear intent” to inflict harm on members of the force.

Protestors confront Gardai during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre.
Protestors confront Gardai during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre.
Image: PA

THE GARDA REPRESENTATIVE Association has said the Justice Minister and Garda Commissioner ‘need to act now’ in securing additional funding for An Garda Siochana following Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre.

GRA representative for the Dublin South Central Division, Damian McCarthy, said it was evident from early on that protesters intended to “inflict harm and injury” on gardaí. 

Garda McCarthy said it was only through “sheer luck” that more members did not sustain more serious injuries.

“It took a sinister development. It is quite worrying and frustrating. As a result of Saturday’s incident, we’re requesting an urgent meeting with the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice to discuss in detail the type of risk and injury we were exposed to,” McCarthy told Morning Ireland, adding that the meeting needs to take place within 48 hours. 

Saturday’s protest was planned for Stephen’s Green at 2pm, but after gardaí closed both Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square parks protesters set up at the top of Grafton Street near where speeches were made. Once these speeches were over the atmosphere in the crowd turned more hostile.

Thirteen people were charged and remanded in custody yesterday after a special sitting of Dublin District Court on Saturday night. 

The gathering breached public health restrictions and turned violent at times, with three gardaí suffering injuries, one of whom needed hospital treatment for a broken ankle. He is expected to undergo reconstruction surgery later this week. 

Garda McCarthy said, that based on information available to him, he believes that this was a “very well planned and organized event to inflict harm on members of An Garda Síochana”. 

“These are very serious matters. They need to be addressed without further delay, and what the association will be looking for is for the government to act now to ensure that members of AGS are pushed up the priority list for vaccination, without any further delay. 

“We haven’t been listened to in the past. If by any stretch of the imagination, the difficulties we encountered on Saturday makes a clear case that we have to be prioritised.”

The union is calling on Minister McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to provide a supplementary budget to ensure gardaí have “sufficient protection on the street”. 

“We are dwindling in resources we need action now to ensure the safety of our members, and the community.

“We cannot afford to have the situation spiralled out of control. We need announcements from the government in the very near future in terms of extra resources and funding to ensure an incident of this nature doesn’t happen again.” 

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The GRA, which represents 12,500 rank-and-file members of the force, has also been strongly critical of gardaí’s priority ranking in the vaccine roll-out. 

Yesterday, Minister McEntee condemned Saturday’s protest and said that she would like to see gardaí vaccinated as soon as possible but that it will likely not be until later in the spring.

Her comments came after Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said there is no corroborated evidence that extreme left factions were engaged in the anti-lockdown protest.

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Adam Daly

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