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Garda injured after riot squad called to Traveller pub battle

A GARDA was brought to hospital last night suffering from an eye injury after a pitched battle broke out in a suburban Dublin pub.

Scores of gardai, some in riot gear, struggled with up to 15 Travellers after they barricaded themselves into John D's pub in Balbriggan.

The group of mostly men had been drinking in the pub for some time before running amok.

The interior of the pub in Balbriggan was seriously damaged and many of the windows broken after the group began throwing bottles and furniture.

The riot squad, joined by local gardai and reinforcements from nearby stations, including Swords, Donabate, Baldoyle and Lusk, rushed to the scene after the alert was raised at about 6.45pm.

Incoming traffic to The Square area of Balbriggan, where the pub is located, was diverted as gardai moved to take control of the violent situation. A large crowd of onlookers gathered in the town square as the drama unfolded.

For a short period, there was no access to the centre of the town, with both roads blocked.

Local Fianna Fail Councillor Gerry Buckley, who was at the scene, said: "They blocked themselves into the pub and it all got out of control. The guards from every area were down and they had to bring the riot squad in," he said.

"There were windows and bottles and chairs thrown about and all the glasses smashed. There was a small scuffle on the street but it was over in a few seconds."

Mr Buckley, who said he believed the injured garda would require stitches, said he had been living in Balbriggan for the last 20 years and had never seen an incident like this.

"The people of Balbriggan are working hard to create a good place to live," he said.

During the fracas, one garda was injured in the eye while another person was also taken away in an ambulance for medical treatment.

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After calm was restored in the normally sedate commuter town, a number of those involved in the row were arrested and brought into custody by gardai.

The Travellers are not believed to be from the local area and it is unclear what provoked the incident.

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