Twenty arrested as rioters and gardaí clash for almost three hours in city Scuffles between protesters and gardaí took place yesterday in Dorset Street and adjoining streets in the north inner city.


Scuffles between protesters and gardaí took place yesterday in Dorset Street and adjoining streets in the north inner city.

CONOR LALLY, Crime Correspondent

HUNDREDS OF rioters clashed with gardaí for almost three hours in Dublin city centre yesterday, throwing fireworks, glass bottles and bricks. Riot squad officers responded by charging the crowds.
There were 20 arrests, with some rioters forcibly handcuffed and removed after they resisted. Gardaí are braced for further trouble today.
Yesterday, both Garda helicopters and the Garda fixed-wing surveillance aircraft could be seen in the skies above the city, recording the rioting. At one point, the trouble on Dorset Street in the north inner city spread about 800m north to the junction with Eccles Street and Temple Street, where roads were open to traffic.
A Bus Éireann coach and cars inadvertently driven into the rioting were hit with bricks thrown over them towards gardaí. Businesses quickly pulled their shutters down and closed when they realised the gathering was turning violent.
Armed detectives mingled in the crowd while some of their colleagues photographed the rioters for prosecution at a later date.

Earlier, at 1pm, there was trouble on Henry Street as protesters tried to break through a Garda cordon for a sit-down protest at the Spire on O’Connell Street, past which the Queen’s car later drove. The small crowd was quickly cleared by gardaí.

The main trouble flared at the edge of a warren of streets north of the Garden of Remembrance closed off to secure the site for the Queen’s wreath-laying at 3pm.

A crowd of about 200 gathered from lunchtime at the main crossroads of Dorset Street, Blessington Street and Frederick Street North.

At about 2pm, flags and banners with emblems for the 32 County Sovereignty Committee and Republican Sinn Féin could be seen in the crowd. The first scuffles began as protesters threw fireworks and missiles at the front line of uniformed gardaí securing the closed roads. A Union Jack was also set on fire.

Uniform and riot squad gardaí linked arms to create a line of defence to keep the crowd back.

One protester had brought a box of soft drinks cans and these were thrown at the gardaí, along with fireworks, bricks and glass bottles. Large wheelie bins filled with rubbish from local businesses were set on fire.

By 3pm, when the Queen was due at the Garden of Remembrance 500m away, a large number of fireworks were thrown and the crowd began chanting “IRA”. For about 30 minutes, missiles were thrown almost continuously. Just after 3.30pm, gardaí dressed in full riot gear emerged and the dispersing of the rioters began. The riot squad fanned out to clear the crossroads, effectively splitting the crowd into three, with small sections of protesters being pushed south down Dorset Street and others into Blessington Street.

A large section of the crowd stayed together and were pushed north on to Dorset Street by riot squad officers who used their shields.

Some gardaí used mace spray and riot squad members drew their batons. Gardaí used loud speakers to ask the crowd to disperse, warning them that if they refused they would be arrested under the Public Order Act.

The small crowd corralled into Blessington Street threw missiles at one line of gardaí, at which point the first arrest was made. A man was plucked from the crowd, wrestled to the ground and handcuffed.

Lines of riot squad gardaí then pushed the largest section of protesters further north up Dorset Street. There were intense scuffles as the protesters were pushed back by the full-length Garda perspex shields, and even paramedics on duty donned riot helmets.

Some seven people were plucked from the crowd in quick succession and arrested. Rioters got a supply of red bricks from a nearby building site and broke them into pieces before throwing them at gardaí for long periods.

There were a number of further arrests as the final charge on the rioters by riot squad members on foot and by Garda vehicles took place. At 4.45pm, a large Garda truck was moved in to carry away those arrested. Council workers began clearing the burning rubbish, planks of wood, cans, bottles and bricks that littered Dorset Street and small side roads where some rioting also occurred. A separate protest by the republican socialist group Éirígí on Parnell Street passed off without incident.

A protest against the Queen’s visit organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement passed off without incident yesterday evening. About 100 people took part in the protest, which began at the GPO and ended with the release of black balloons outside the Central Bank. It sought to highlight the role of the Queen as the head of the British armed forces.

Chairman of the movement Richard Boyd-Barrett said the protest was not anti-British, but was to highlight the role of British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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