Shocked locals want action after brawl at the seaside
POLITICIANS and shocked residents have called for action after violent scenes marred the sunshine for families in a Dublin coastal community over the weekend.
Several hundred teenagers descended upon Howth in north Dublin on Saturday afternoon and vicious clashes erupted among the large crowd.
Several revellers were left injured after what has been described as chaotic scenes, which intimidated and frightened innocent onlookers.
Independent Dublin TD Tommy Broughan described the beachside brawl as "lunacy".
He said that "it is very distressing" for families who may have witnessed "this kind of madness, nonsense" in the busy, picturesque seaside town.
It is understood that hordes of teenagers – as young as 15 years old – began to descend upon the village Saturday afternoon, armed with drink and ready to party in the sun.
And one witness indicated that the fights may have been initiated as rival groups from different areas of north Dublin came face to face.
Fracas of this nature have become an all-too-familiar feature along the Dublin coastline in recent years.
Several people have been injured and arrested by gardai in recent summers, after "mini-riots" have broken out on sun-filled days. "These incidents on warm days in Howth and Portmarnock in particular have been raised several times," Mr Broughan added.
He is now calling upon the gardai, Irish Rail and local authorities to work together "to ensure that there is absolutely no repetition of that this summer".
One garda source said: "Once you get fine weather you get people coming with drink to the beaches in north Dublin, despite the fact that there is signage up that it is illegal.
"People need to know that it is an arrestable offence to be in possession of alcohol in a public place with intent to consume or supply others."
They also confirmed that a number of preventative measures had been employed in the area at the weekend, as well as members of the force's Public Order Unit maintaining a presence on the ground.
"We had a prison van out with 14 cells in it on Friday. We had gardai meeting and greeting DARTs, buses and traffic descending upon Malahide and Portmarnock beaches.
"Our policy is to intercept people with alcohol and seize it before it gets to the beaches, and that worked very well here this weekend," the source added.
Local resident and Howth-Sutton Community Council member Pat Murphy said that incidents like Saturday's fracas were very damaging to the reputation of the popular coastal town.
"It doesn't do our reputation any good. Howth is a big tourist area, and a lot of visitors from all over the world come out to Howth. And that type of carry- on is not encouraging for anybody coming out," he added.
A garda spokesperson last night confirmed to the Irish Independent that "they moved on a large number of unruly youths there".
They said that there was just one arrest for a "minor public order incident".
Iarnrod Eireann responded to a garda request on Saturday evening, and trains did not stop at Sutton station between 4pm and 6pm.