Taoiseach condemns Dublin City protests and 'thuggish behaviour'

Taoiseach condemns Dublin City protests and 'thuggish behaviour'

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has condemned the protests in Dublin City Centre today which saw protesters clash with members of An Garda Síochána.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has condemned the protests in Dublin City Centre today and praised An Garda Síochána for their response in restoring order.

A number of people have been arrested as hundreds of protesters took part in an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin.

Protesters clashed with Gardaí as they marched through the city centre and attempted to make their way to St Stephen's Green park.

There was a heavy garda presence around the city centre ahead of the protest, which started at around 2 pm.

Hundreds of people who were not wearing face masks took part in the demonstration.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has condemned the protests which he said “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.”

Protesters clashed with gardai as they marched on Grafton Street and attempted to make their way to St Stephen's Green.
Protesters clashed with gardai as they marched on Grafton Street and attempted to make their way to St Stephen's Green.

Videos of the protest shows a demonstrator point a firework at gardaí before it went off, while other missiles and items were thrown at gardaí.

Protesters were prevented from gathering in the park after the Office of Public Works closed the gates to the public.

The city's tram operator said that its services would not be operating at the St Stephen's Green stop because of the protest.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris TD also condemned the anti-lockdown protest.

He tweeted: "Pure thuggery on the streets of Dublin today.

"It's not a 'protest'. It's an attack on our national effort.

"The abuse directed at the Gardai is sickening and shameful. Disgraceful.

"Thoughts with the Gardai and their families."

Gardai talks to protesters. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire
Gardai talks to protesters. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond slammed the violent scenes.

"From the outset, this protest was ill-advised, fuelled by conspiracy theories and championed by individuals seeking to manipulate the genuine fears of many vulnerable individuals," he said.

"It was disgraceful to see this protest descend into violent scenes with brave members of An Garda Siochana subjected to intolerable physical and verbal abuse.

"Some of the eye witness footage circulating is extremely disturbing and every public representative should condemn these awful scenes.

"The footage appears to show a lit firework being thrown at members of the gardaí by one protester, which is truly shameful.

"These brave men and women risk their lives every day in the service of the people of our State and what they were subjected to today is utterly appalling."

A spokesman for An Garda Siochana said: "A number of traffic diversions and other policing measures are currently in place in Dublin this afternoon, Saturday 27th February 2021 in response to a demonstration in the city centre area.

"A policing plan has been implemented and An Garda Siochana will provide a full update when this operation has concluded."

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