Saturday 16 December 2017

Garda plan in place to combat 'guerilla' protesters

Tom Brady and Louise Hogan

GARDAI have prepared contingency plans to combat "guerilla" tactics by breakaway protesters outside Leinster House in the centre of Dublin.

Officers fear that some of the protesters, who attempted to storm the main gates last week, may try to breach security at the Dail prior to this evening's demonstration by posing as visitors or staff, or gaining entry from adjoining buildings.

The main body of demonstrators are due to end their march through the city centre at the junction of Molesworth Street and Kildare Street and the organisers have pledged that it will be "self policed" to ensure that there is no trouble.


However, the breakaway group -- comprised mainly of members of dissident republicans from Eirigi and Republican Sinn Fein and Socialist Worker -- are intending to gather at the Shelbourne Hotel and march from there.

Additional gardai are being drafted in to provide security following last week's violence when eight gardai on duty outside the main gates of Leinster House had to draw batons to prevent an 80-strong crowd from forcing their way into the grounds

The uniformed gardai will be backed up by members of the Special Branch, who will be observing the demonstrators, while personnel in riot gear will be on stand-by.

However, a senior officer stressed last night that the riot squad would only be used as a last resort.

"We are concerned mainly about the activities of a handful, who seem intent on causing a disturbance, but we are satisfied we can deal with them without bringing in the reserve squad," he said.

Gardai will also be maintaining a presence outside the Anglo Irish Bank headquarters, which was targeted for a second time by protesters on Saturday.

The ranks of the breakaway protesters are being swelled by a group ferried in from Northern Ireland, with participants from Belfast and Portadown identified in the previous demonstrations.

Gardai said they did not plan to shut the gates in advance of the demonstration and were determined that it would be "business as usual" around Leinster House.

Meanwhile, about 30 stewards have been appointed by the organisers of the main march.

The Right to Work Campaign, sponsored by the union, UNITE, said the stewards would defuse any tension

Spokesman James O'Toole acknowledged that the violent scenes had distracted from the high numbers of people who had turned out to take part in the protest at the massive injection of billions of euro to rescue the banks, rather than on job creation programmes.

Irish Independent

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