The Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said an element of young drunk people are responsible for causing violent disturbances in Dublin City over the bank holiday weekend.
He also singled out the selling of take-away alcohol from licensed premises which he said led to people drinking in public places which led to attacks on gardai, criminal damage as well as general public disorder.
Speaking in Limerick today, Commissioner Harris said: “What we had last weekend was violence due to large amounts of young people, who had drink taken, some of them were very drunk, but then there was an element within that group who were intent on trouble, and causing damage and causing violence.
“There were attacks on members of An Garda Siochana, there were assaults within groups fighting within the crowds, and there was also criminal damage, and we have a responsibility to respond to that.”
Where crowds gather, An Garda Síochána's responsibility is preserving public order and preventing and investigating any criminal offence, which may occur. AGS continue's to focus on the approach engage, explain, encourage the public with enforcement only as a last resort. pic.twitter.com/VZzfVhQfVR
— Garda Info (@gardainfo) June 6, 2021
Last weekend’s incidents were “a spontaneous gathering of those young people, and we didn't have a control of it, and we didn't have a means of licensing it”, Mr Harris said.
“In effect we had to deal with individuals that turned up, and the difference from the weekend before seems to be, that there was a group intent on causing harm through violence or criminal damage through the burning of bins.”
“I think over the last number of weeks we’ve had a particular imbalance in the (drinks) licence industry, in that, we’ve had either carry-out drinks or carry-out pints, and licensed premises do bring an element of order.
“What we’ve had is not events, but just people congregating, there’s a lot of drink being taken and inevitably that has ended up then in public order difficulties that we’ve had to deal with,” he added.
Mr Harris rejected criticism that the garda response in Dublin may have been over-reactionary.
He said gardai were simply doing their job by responding to violent events: “I would say that our use of force and our policing tactics were appropriate to the situation that we faced, and I would reiterate that, in acting in how we did, I believe we prevented the situation from deteriorating further.
“We could already see there was damage being caused, and we could see there were groups fighting amongst themselves within that crowd, and there were sustained attacks on members of An Garda Siochana through bottles being thrown.
“So, that is a situation that we can’t allow just to escalate, and we can’t allow for that to continue - we have to act to preserve the peace, and to prevent crime, and that’s done in order to protect people and our own members on duty.”
Mr Harris said people were entitled to make a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) if they wanted, adding, “every use of force is reported upon and is assessed and if members of the public wish to make complaints they can to the independent GSOC who will investigate those.”