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Saturday 21 April 2018

Armed gardaí on patrol for parade

Eddie McGuinness: increase in security for parade. Picture: Arthur Carron
Eddie McGuinness: increase in security for parade. Picture: Arthur Carron

Robin Schiller and Tom Brady

A major security operation involving armed gardaí will be put in place for the Dublin Pride parade today amid intense vigilance about a possible terror threat.

A backpack ban will be in place in some parts of the city, while temporary bollards are being used in crowded pedestrian areas to protect the thousands of people expected to attend.

Officers from the Armed Support Unit (ASU) will be on patrol along with other specialist Garda units to prevent any potential attack taking place in the city centre.

Garda chiefs also plan to erect temporary barriers and bollards, capable of withstanding direct impacts and preventing a terrorist vehicle from hitting its intended target, on the capital's streets today.

Senior gardaí have stated there is no specific intelligence to indicate any threat to the event.

However, officers added that necessary precautions must be taken in the wake of the recent terror attacks in the UK.

Today's Dublin Pride event will be attended by the newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who will be shadowed by a security detail from the elite Special Detective Unit (SDU) as is standard protocol.

A bag ban, which has been enforced at sporting events, festivals and concerts, will be in place at certain locations.

Bags bigger than A4 size will not be permitted into St Stephen's Green or Smithfield Square. Exceptions will be made for people with medical conditions, as well as children.

A similar ban will also be enforced today at the Panti Bar, a popular gay venue on Capel Street, on the advice of gardaí.

Specialist officers from the Garda Public Order Unit will also be on duty for the parade and after-party in Smithfield Square, which can hold 7,500 people.

In total 36 gardaí from the unit, also referred to as the 'riot squad', will patrol the city centre in three vans.

These gardaí will adopt a 'soft hat' approach rather than being equipped in full riot gear.

Armed gardaí will also be on duty throughout the city centre and will patrol both on foot and in marked vehicles. The ASU was set-up in the wake of the Hutch/Kinahan gangland feud but will also be used in response to any potential terror attacks.

Eddie McGuinness, Dublin LGBT Pride manager, said that organisers were liaising with gardaí and security was being increased for this year's event.

He has asked people to be vigilant and look after each other, but emphasised that it wasn't to scare people, but rather a matter of protocol.

Irish Independent

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