Man who shot fireworks at officers during Saturday’s unrest in Dublin city centre is identified
The group behind the weekend’s violent anti-lockdown protests are planning another event on St Patrick’s Day.
A senior source said gardaí were concerned Saturday’s event, protesting against Covid-19 prevention measures, was just the first, ahead of a March 17 protest and another planned for March 20.
There were ugly scenes from Saturday’s gathering, with video footage showing a man shooting fireworks at the gardaí.
Officers were forced to break up the crowd and there were 23 arrests.
It has emerged that gardaí have identified the man who they suspect shot a firework at officers during the riots.
The 30-year-old man, from Dún Laoghaire, is known to gardaí and has previously appeared in court in connection with a drugs search.
Officers were searching for him last night with the intention of bringing him into custody.
A photograph of the suspect was widely distributed among gardaí on Saturday night and it is likely that he could face a reckless endangerment charge in relation to the
“Gardaí have been monitoring the activities of all the groups involved in organising this protest and will continue to monitor their activities,” a senior source said.
“Gardaí were ready for this on Saturday when a special policing plan was put in place and will be ready for future protests,” the source added.
It is understood that there are concerns among gardaí about a protest organised for this Saturday in Cork.
TD Neale Richmond said the authorities needed to act immediately to ensure there was no repeat of the scenes in Dublin city centre.
“Already we can see online that another dangerous group has planned a protest for Cork next week.
“Quite simply this protest must be stopped and the organisers held to account for such reckless measures,” he said.
The events are being advertised on social media, including on Facebook.
Yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar described conspiracy theories spread by some anti-lockdown protesters as “bonkers”.
He said he was concerned people were forming groups on social media to “find, organise and encourage people to disobey our emergency public health laws”.
He said this ranged from organising protests to encouraging people to open their businesses in breach of Covid-19 restrictions.
“I am a strong believer in free speech, and that includes tolerance for and protection of people saying things you do not agree with.
“However, this is a national and global health emergency. What we saw on the streets of Dublin this week cannot happen again,” he said.
“I’ll be writing to the digital platforms to press them on their responsibility to moderate and remove content that encourages such behaviour.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin called the attacks “thuggish” and said those who gathered for the protest showed a “complete lack of respect to the people who have made huge sacrifices during this pandemic”.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “This mindless thuggery showed a wilful and blatant disregard for the public health rules which are needed to help us all and keep us safe.”
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said yesterday the incident highlighted a need for early vaccination for gardaí.
Damien McCarthy, who represents the DMR South Central Division where many of the gardaí on duty on Saturday are based, said the incidents highlighted the multitude of dangers faced by gardaí policing the Covid restrictions.
“It is clear that a certain element turned up at the demonstration to inflict harm on gardaí.
“Our priority is the health and welfare of members and our immediate concern is that those injured on Saturday make a full recovery and receive all the support they need.
“There were at least a dozen gardaí who sustained injuries as a result of missiles thrown, and one member was hospitalised and will be undergoing surgery later this week,” he said.
He said these engagements meant members came in close contact with numerous people who refused to follow public health advice and were therefore more likely to have the virus.
“Our members’ normal duties involve close physical contact with people but on Saturday we were involved in hundreds of physical engagements with people who are at higher risk of infection,” he added.