Seven arrested as factions fail to agree on plan of action
Published 19/05/2011 | 05:00
IN keeping with Republican tradition, the first item on the agenda was the split.
Four separate factions lined up to make known their opposition to Queen Elizabeth's visit.
But they failed, ironically, to agree on an united dissident Ireland, and ended up making a laughing stock of themselves.
More than five hundred gardai formed a ring of protection around Dublin Castle, where the queen was the guest of honour at a state dinner, and ensured that any protesters were kept beyond shouting distance.
Gardai were expecting trouble from the demonstrations organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32 CSM), which is alleged to be sympathetic to the Real IRA, and Republican Sinn Fein (RSF), which denies it is the political wing of the Continuity IRA.
And they had gathered in force. But they had to wait for more than an hour before the two groups managed to muster 70 protesters outside St Patrick's Park and assemble at the junction of Nicholas Street and New Street.
The 32 CSM group set out on their march towards Dublin Castle but the smaller outfit from RSF refused to join.
The 32 CSM group chanted "Brits out" before they came to a halt at heavily manned barriers in Christchurch.
The protesters seemed perplexed about their next move and searched for more support. But the RSF remained in the rear outside Jury's hotel, while a half dozen from the Irish Republican Socialist Party looked on from the opposite side of the street.
In the meantime, Eirigi gathered about 200 demonstrators outside St Catherine's Church at the bottom of Thomas Street and they remained there.
The 32 CSM march then went into reverse, persuaded RSF to join them and headed to Thomas Street where Eirigi declined to take part in a combined protest. Eirigi were left as the other two groups returned to Christchurch
But garda reinforcements had been drafted into the area and, marshalled by Chief Supt Pat Leahy, they sealed off two streets. The mood turned ugly and protesters began pelting the garda lines with bottles, stones and fireworks.
The uniformed gardai stood their ground as the mounted unit moved into a side street and public order units were kept on standby a short distance away. Several rows of barriers were set up along streets leading to the quays, where the queen was due to pass by on her way to the castle.
A section of the protesters then broke away down Nicholas Street but were caught in a garda pincer movement and divided into smaller factions.
This allowed the gardai to carry out seven arrests while the rest of them were corralled in groups beside nearby flat complexes.
Those detained were expected to appear before a special night sitting of Dublin district court in Cloverhill.
The Eirigi demonstrators eventually marched up to Christchurch where they attempted to float dozens of black balloons but this also turned into a disaster as most of them failed to rise.
They opted to make do with a crudely made black coffin, which was marked "British empire" but could easily have been inscribed with "dissident republicanism".