‘Hoodlums, teen gangs’: Garda concern over joining of protest groups today

ireland
‘Hoodlums, Teen Gangs’: Garda Concern Over Joining Of Protest Groups Today ‘Hoodlums, Teen Gangs’: Garda Concern Over Joining Of Protest Groups Today
Gardaí clash with protesters during an anti-lockdown protest on Grafton Street in Dublin on February 27th. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto.
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Additional reporting by Press Association

Gardaí have expressed concern over the potential joining of “hoodlums, teen gangs or right-wing groups” later today in a number of planned protests.

The Irish Examiner reports that members of the force are bracing for a “difficult” St Patrick's Day, with up to eight separate protests and events due to take place in Dublin.

Sources said that while the individual events are not expected to attract large numbers, it is unclear if any of the protests will attempt to join up.

There are “unknown” factors, including whether or not those already known to gardaí, groups of younger people or far-right groups will latch on to the events, senior officers said.

“The protests involve disparate groups and it's not clear if they are talking to each other or not,” said a source.

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“There are a few unknowns: will hoodlums, teen gangs, or right-wing groups kick off? Will the protests come together and will there be any counter-protests? There is no indication of that at the moment.”

Planned protests

Several protest events are being planned via social media, by disparate groups in different locations in Dublin city centre. Another protest is planned outside national broadcaster RTÉ in the south of the city.

Gardaí will later roll out a massive security operation, with more than 2,500 gardaí to be deployed across checkpoints and arterial routes across the country.

Much of the focus will be on Dublin, amid fears that anti-lockdown activists will seek to use the public holiday to demonstrate against coronavirus restrictions.

There were ugly scenes close to Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green last month, when gardaí were attacked with fireworks amid disturbances at a lockdown protest.

Protesters and gardaí clashing during an anti-lockdown protest (Damian Eagers/PA)

Gardaí will be patrolling roads in the city through Wednesday and people will be asked for the reason for their journey to establish whether is it essential.

The Garda will deploy personnel from the national units such as the dog unit, the mounted unit, air support and public order.

Checkpoints will be in place on arterial routes into the city and checks will be conducted on public transport over the course of St Patrick’s Day.

Gardaí will stop people at bus stations and Luas stops to ensure they are not breaking Covid-19 regulations.

Ahead of the day, Deputy Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon said: “As is the case with all protests, An Garda Síochána seeks to engage with protest groups in advance.

“However, some groups choose not to engage with us. It should also be noted that An Garda Síochána has no role in licensing or approving such protests.”

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