People protesting invasion of Ukraine urged to keep demonstrations peaceful

ireland
People Protesting Invasion Of Ukraine Urged To Keep Demonstrations Peaceful People Protesting Invasion Of Ukraine Urged To Keep Demonstrations Peaceful
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the driving of a lorry through the gates of the Russian embassy was ‘foolish and unhelpful’. Photo: PA Images
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David Young and Dominic McGrath, PA

Officials have urged anti-war protesters to keep within the law after a truck was driven through the gates of the Russian embassy on Monday.

Security has been bolstered at embassy in Dublin following the incident, and a man has since appeared in court charged with dangerous driving and criminal damage.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar condemned the incident, branding it “foolish and unhelpful”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar branded the incident ‘foolish and unhelpful’ (Niall Carson/PA)

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris rejected a claim by the Russian authorities that gardaí stood “idle” while the vehicle reversed through the gates.

Mr Varadkar expressed concern that Russian state media could try to use the incident to portray Ireland in a negative light.

“We’ve obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect diplomats who are here in Ireland, and also that will now be misrepresented in Russian state TV as Irish people being involved in violent acts against Russians,” he said.

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“So, it was a foolish and unhelpful act in that regard, and I would say to anyone being involved in the protests, please do protest, we want you to do that, but peaceful protests – no violence, no criminal damage.”

Following Monday’s incident, the Russian embassy issued a statement of condemnation.

While the initial statement criticised the response of the gardaí, a second statement later welcomed additional security measures put in place.

Mr Harris said he did not accept that gardaí had stood idly by, noting there was a swift arrest in the aftermath.

“Where there’s been other incidents as well, individuals are now in the criminal justice system,” he added.

“We’ve made detections in all of those instances, so to say we were standing idly by is not correct.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it was not correct to say officers stood idly by (Niall Carson/PA)

Asked about the cost of the increased security, Mr Harris said: “We have a responsibility obviously to protect all the ambassadors and embassies here in Ireland as part of our function as a policing service and so, in effect, these costs are met by our overall budget and our responsibility that we have.

“And so with the security arrangements at the Russian embassy they will be regularly assessed.”

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He said security measures will be “proportionate and necessary”.

The Commissioner said it is important that protests stay within the law.

“There’s a lot of tension and people are protesting, as they’re entitled to do, but it is a time of high emotion and frustration amongst those protesters.

“What we’d say to them, you are entitled to protest, but you must follow the directions of gardai on duty and obviously you must not commit offences.”

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