Thursday 25 May 2017

Missiles and abuse hurled at garda lines

Fergus Black and Louise Hogan

BOTTLES, cans, fireworks and abuse were hurled at gardai yesterday as violent disturbances marked the queen's arrival at the Garden of Remembrance.

The trouble flared after two groups of protesters -- numbering more than 150 from Republican Sinn Fein and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement -- gathered in Dublin at the junction of Dorset Street and North Frederick Street just a couple of hundred yards from the site which is dedicated to those who died for Irish Freedom.

They were met by a wall of gardai who stood resolute behind a set of double barriers which blocked off Frederick Street. As the clock ticked down to the queen's arrival, tension mounted and the protesters were split in two as a line of more than 30 gardai wearing helmets and visors linked arms and sealed off a section of Dorset Street.

Sensing trouble, shop owners pulled down their shutters and closed early for the day. Then, shortly after 2.30pm, the first of a salvo of missiles was hurled as a group of protesters, many with scarves covering their faces, tried to break through the garda line.

The scuffles swayed back and forth as one senior garda urged his colleagues to "keep your heads up" and to hold the line. This was followed by the first of a number of arrests as a man was wrestled to the ground.

"Always Coca Cola" chanted some of the protesters, as cans of the popular soft drink were hurled at the garda lines.

They were followed by a hail of plastic and glass bottles and the first of up to 20 fireworks, which was sent fizzing along the street towards the garda lines before exploding loudly to cheers from the protesters.

Wheelie bins were also set alight and pushed on to Dorset Street towards the garda lines.

Then just before 3.30pm, shortly after the queen's arrival at the Garden of Remembrance, the garda public order unit moved in.

Met by another salvo of missiles, scores of gardai in full riot gear pushed the protesters back up Dorset Street and Blessington Street and into nearby side streets. The trouble ebbed and flowed for up to two hours before a fleet of garda vans moved in to deal with a series of arrests.

Meanwhile, gardai were faced with a separate group of protesters at the southern end of Parnell Square. There had been some scuffles as gardai moved them from the Spire area on O'Connell Street. The group then moved down along Moore Street where they laid a wreath outside number 16, hailed as the last headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.

Irish Independent

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