Protestors with ‘extremist’ views aim to disrupt Govt, Garda Commissioner says

ireland
Protestors With ‘Extremist’ Views Aim To Disrupt Govt, Garda Commissioner Says Protestors With ‘Extremist’ Views Aim To Disrupt Govt, Garda Commissioner Says
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that violence has been associated with anti-lockdown protests in recent times.
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Muireann Duffy

The Garda Commissioner has said that anti-lockdown protestors are composed of groups with "extremist views" who have the intention of disrupting the activities of the Government.

Speaking at a press briefing today on policing during Covid-19, Commissioner Drew Harris said it is difficult to establish who was the organiser of the protests in Dublin City centre.

Gardaí arrested 11 people who attended demonstrations yesterday for public order offences.

"They are a mix of groups with extremist views and I have difficulty telling them apart because they all seem to have very much the same views," he said.

"What we found concerning about these groups is, you can see an initial call on open source media and then quickly then, they go to covert means of communicating with each other.”

Garda intelligence shows that the groups involved in these protests intend to disrupt Government business, Mr Harris said.

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“Their intentions appear to be to disrupt the port, to disrupt the activity of the Government, to disrupt Government departments and that can’t be tolerated - so we’ve no one to negotiate with. And their actual protest outcomes are not lawful purposes for their activity," he said.

Heavy handedness

The Garda Commissioner also said that the response to anti-lockdown protests in Dublin yesterday was proportionate and that there was no "heavy handedness".

Gardaí were faced with the prospect of a stampede on Grafton Street and had to intervene, he said.

His comments come as a large crowd gathered at a number of locations in the city throughout the day yesterday before arriving on Grafton Street and clashing with Gardaí.

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An investigation into who organised the gathering is currently underway as the demonstrations were in breach of Covid-19 Level 5 restrictions.

Commissioner Harris said that gardaí acted proportionally last night to stop the situation from escalating.

"These groups have shown a propensity to violence. We have seen in recent times there has been violence associated with these protests so all of these matters are matters which have moved it from the policing of Covid-19 restrictions into Public Order legislation.

"In the end last night, we were using Public Order legislation to prevent what would have been a very frightening stampede up Grafton Street."

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