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Gardaí undergoing public order training with new shields and pepper spray. Garda Press Office

Gardaí preparing major security operation to prevent violence during Europa League Final

The UEFA Europa League Final will take place in Dublin on Wednesday 22 May.

GARDAÍ ARE PREPARING a major security operation to prevent serious disorder during this month’s UEFA Europa League final in Dublin.

The force’s management has cancelled leave for all gardaí and declared it an “extraordinary event” on the scale of a national security operation.

Sources have said that fears within an Garda Síochána are that there may be a major unexpected outbreak of violence during the three days around the match, which takes place in Dublin on Wednesday 22 May.

The match will be played in the Aviva Stadium with fans travelling from across Europe.

The semi-final opening legs took place last night with French side Marseille facing Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen taking on Roma. The second legs will take place on 9 May.

Roma fans have a significant reputation for hooliganism and violence and hit the headlines in Ireland in recent years as a result of the attack on Sean Cox in Liverpool in 2018. Filippo Lombardi was sentenced to three years in prison for the attack – the 53-year-old Westmeath man was assaulted at last season’s Champions League semi-final.

There have been a number of articles suggesting that football hooliganism is on the rise across Europe. 

While Roma is not guaranteed to make the event there are still concerns among gardaí of possible violence. Security assessments have found there’s a high risk of a security problems.

One key facet of the operation will be the Garda National Public Order Unit. There has been extensive training of new members for the unit. 

They have also received new, smaller round public order shields and pepper spray – it is hoped that this will make the gardaí more mobile during riot situations. 

public order Gardaí being issued with round shields during their training. Garda Press Office Garda Press Office

Large numbers of gardaí are being trained, with the Garda organisation hoping to have 1,000 members for the national unit. 

While upskilling and tactical changes have been ongoing for a while in the garda public order units there has been some revisiting of how the teams carry out their duties following the Dublin riots last November.

They have been issued with pepper spray canisters and there has been a suggestion that they will get tasers also – at the moment these devices are only carried by the Armed Support Unit and Emergency Response Unit. 

Last week An Garda Síochána released images of the Public Order Unit training on their social media channels. 

“Members of our Public Order Units are predominantly drawn from frontline resources and deploy on both planned proactive and reactive operations in support of their frontline colleagues.

“In addition to increased strength incapacitant spray already issued to all Garda members in February 2024, Public Order Units are now issued with larger capacity Incapacitant Spray canisters.

“Public Order Units have also commenced training with smaller round public order shields facilitating more mobile public order tactics and responses,” a statement said. 

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