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Gardaí present at protests yesterday outside the Oireachtas.
dáil protests

Policing Authority says it's 'concerned' over yesterday's protest outside Leinster House

The authority said that the Gardaí’s protection of the public’s right to protest should be equally as important as the safety of others at work.

THE POLICING AUTHORITY has said that it is “concerned” over the scenes that were seen at yesterday’s protest outside Leinster House.

In a statement to The Journal the garda watchdog said while it is important for gardaí to “facilitate the constitutional right to freedom of expression and the right to protest, it is equally important that individuals are able to safely access their workplaces”.

Scenes outside the Dáil yesterday saw numerous TD come under attack by anti-immigration protesters outside the Houses of the Oireachtas, as well as the arrest of 13 members for public order offences.

Many protesters shouted indiscriminate abuse at people as they entered and left the Oireachtas campus and it was reported by staff that a bottle of what appeared to be urine was thrown over the wall into the car park

Questioned on the garda response to the protest by The Journal today, a spokesperson for the Policing Authority said it was concerned about the events which disrupted the government building yesterday.

The Policing Authority said it was a “complex balance” for Gardaí policing these types of events to facilitate a right to protest while also preventing “any escalation of compliant protest into acts of violence and intimidation”.

Whilst leaving the Oireachtas campus yesterday evening, Independent TD Michael Healy Ray had to be escorted by Gardaí away from the crowds after many had become aggressive towards the Kerry representative

It was also reported, by the TD himself on television and to other outlets after, that a phone belonging to a staff member of his had been taken from them whilst they were being escorted.

A number of other protests, of a similar vein of yesterday’s, have taken place in numerous parts of the country throughout this year.

The Policing Authority has said that it has spoken with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on the approach that gardaí should take whilst attempting to police these events.

The spokesperson said: “We have actively engaged during 2023 with the Garda Commissioner on the approach to policing protests including the guidance to frontline members on when and what type of Garda intervention is required.

The spokesperson told The Journal that the discussions have touched on the “balance between the right to protest peaceably and the protection of human rights as well as how the Garda Síochána uses available intelligence to enhance its approach to managing public safety at such events”.

We have sought assurance that individuals who engage in volatile or violent behaviour will be dealt with accordingly,”

13 of the 200 protesters were arrested for public order offences, gardaí said yesterday evening. All 13 have since been charged.

Some protesters also wheeled a makeshift, imitation gallows into the crowd. Photographs of prominent politicians were attached to the frame around an effigy hanging from a noose.  

The event has been condemned by politicians across the political divide.

The Policing Authority hinted that this topic will be discussed with the commissioner next week at it’s month Authority meeting. The meeting will take place next Thursday and will be livestreamed online.

Additional reporting from Mairead Maguire