A protester accused of launching a firework at gardaí during an anti-lockdown demonstration in Dublin on Saturday has been granted bail.
Jake Merriman, 30, was charged and appeared at Dublin District Court where Judge Brian O’Shea refused jurisdiction and held that the case should go forward to a higher court.
Hundreds gathered on Grafton Street to protest measures aimed at halting the spread of covid-19.
Gardaí prevented them gaining entry to St Stephen’s Green park which had been closed by the Office of Public Works on Garda instructions.
A firework was discharged at the top of Grafton Street after which gardaí baton charged protesters. The riot led to three officers being injured, 23 people being arrested and 13 people getting charged that evening with public order offences.
Footage of the chaotic scenes went viral online.
Mr Merriman, from Meadowlands Avenue, Monkstown, Dublin was arrested on Tuesday. He was charged at 11.25pm at Irishtown Garda station with five offences and brought to court today.
He is accused of production of weapons during an assault – an eight shot firework and two glass bottles – at Grafton Street. He also has two other charges for possessing other glass bottles which were capable of causing serious injury.
Detective Sergeant Patrick Traynor told Judge O’Shea the accused made no reply when charged.
He said directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had not been received. Judge O’Shea refused jurisdiction after hearing an outline of the allegations.
Detective Sergeant Traynor alleged that Mr Merriman was present at a protest on Grafton Street on February 27th last during which violence erupted.
It was alleged, “objects, missiles and fireworks were fired at members of An Garda Síochána”.
Detective Sergeant Traynor said an eight-shot firework was discharged and glass bottles were thrown.
He agreed with defence counsel Keith Spencer (instructed by solicitor Niall O’Connor) that the five charges did not overlap and that they relate to separate incidents.
Judge O’Shea held the case was too serious to be dealt with at district court level. He adjourned it until April 14 next for the DPP to indicate consent to trial in the circuit court which has tougher sentencing powers, and for a book of evidence to be completed by the State.
Detective Sergeant Traynor objected to bail citing the seriousness of the case. He said CCTV evidence had been obtained and there were witnesses.
Mr Merriman, dressed in dark blue jeans and a grey sweater, did not address the court.
Counsel pleaded for bail.
Judge O’Shea said he appreciated the seriousness of the charges but it could be dealt with by way of bail conditions.
Mr Merriman, who has not yet indicated how he will plead, was remanded on bail in his own bond of €200.
He must sign on twice a week at Shankill Garda station, stay away from Grafton Street and the entire Dublin 2 area, and reside at an address handed in to court.
Counsel asked for it not to be read out adding that there had been “a substantial amount of fanfare”. Judge O’Shea said he understood, in case there were repercussions.
Legal aid was granted after the court heard the accused had worked in a power-washing business, but is currently in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
Saturday’s policing operation initially involved approximately 125 gardai: uniformed personnel, plain clothes, public order units, the Garda Mounted Unit and Garda Dog Unit. Further resources were redeployed from across Dublin city in support.