Garda Commissioner Drew Harris spoke to the media after an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin on Saturday. Photo: Damian Eagers / PA Wire
Alan O’Keeffe and Wayne O’Connor
Twins and a father and son were among 13 people charged with administrative offenses tonight after anti-lockdown demonstrations in Dublin this afternoon.
All 13 were charged with violating the Criminal Justice Public Order Act after facing a series of charges when 12 men and one woman were in a special session before Judge Michael Walsh tonight of Dublin District Court.
All faced a variety of charges including failure to comply with a Garda request to leave an area, obstruction or attack on an officer, and violation of the peace.
It followed a series of violent and excruciating scenes in Dublin city center starting at noon this afternoon in which Gardaí was forced to walk on the south end of Grafton Street near St. Stephen’s Green, who had gathered to protest the lockdown, beating crowds.
Rockets and fireworks were fired at a Gardaí-manned security chain that carried out 23 arrests.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris , said the arrests came after three gardaí were injured and one was taken to hospital for treatment.
The scenes were by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Attorney General Helen McEntee, Mr. Harris and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) condemned.
Gardaí prepared for the protests by closing a number of public spaces to prevent gatherings that would violate Level 5 lockdown restrictions. This included the closure of St. Stephen’s Green Park, which the Public Works Bureau closed at the request of An Garda Síochána.
However, hundreds had gathered in the area and elsewhere in the city center, including outside the GPO At O’Connell St.
Gardaí from different districts of Dublin were deployed with about 125 uniformed workers, Gardaí in civilian clothes, public order units, mounted mnits and the Garda dog unit.
Gardaí said, they got engaged to people who had gathered to part and leave, initially by peaceful means, before the scenes turned violent.
A garda spokesman said gardaI was « with fireworks, missiles and spit targeted « as » continued and orchestrated non-compliance with public health rules « forced them to use reinforced enforcement as a » last resort « e to be introduced.
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Cell phone recordings of the scenes showed how a Garda narrowly avoided being caught by one of the fireworks at the foot of Grafton Street.
This led to 23 arrests in which the detainees went to several Garda stations in the throughout town.
Mr Harris suggested today that it was lucky that few gardaí were injured and expressed particular concern about the garda, which narrowly missed being hit by fireworks .
« It was aimed at this person and we are lucky that they did not suffer any serious injury. Only the person’s quick thinking saved him, » he added.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin called attacks on Gardaí « sloppy » and said that those who gathered for the protest « showed no respect for the people who made great sacrifices during this pandemic ».
Attorney General Helen McEntee said that many of those present were with firm Charges were notified condemning today’s events.
« This pointless brawl showed a willful and blatant disregard for the public health rules necessary to help and protect us all, » she said.
« To see rockets being deliberately fired and aimed at our unarmed members is really shocking and underscores the dangerous and intense element of surveillance of this part of Covid-19, » a spokeswoman said tonight A special session was held by the Dublin District Court to bring charges against some of those arrested.
All of them were held on remand and agreed to bail € 200 to appear in Cloverhill District Court on March 5th. The deposit was given on condition that they comply with Covid-19 regulations, do not hold an illegal gathering and behave well.
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