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Sunday 18 February 2018

Gardai trawl CCTV of protesters who brought city centre to a standstill

Gardai push against crowd barriers as protesters gather outside Leinster House in Dublin
Gardai push against crowd barriers as protesters gather outside Leinster House in Dublin

PROTESTERS who brought Dublin city centre traffic to a halt face being arrested, according to gardai.

Detectives are today beginning their trawl of CCTV footage of people who stopped commuters and workers from making their way home during rush hour traffic.

The city centre grinded to a halt during scenes of chaos as hundreds of protesters blocked traffic on O'Connell Bridge for more than an hour yesterday evening, leaving thousands stranded.

Across the city, many had to walk home as traffic ground to a halt because of the actions of some protesters.

Supt David Taylor of the Garda Press Office today said they decided not to use batons at O'Connell Bridge to avoid an all-out confrontation.

However, individuals identified on CCTV breaking the law are liable “to be arrested” by gardai later, he said.

There were angry scenes as workers attempting to get home became involved in heated arguments with protesters.

People travelling home from work yesterday evening were trapped in massive tailbacks for several hours as some 300 protesters – including some who were marching under republican banners – staged a sit-in on the bridge.

Their initial occupation lasted for about five minutes, but after marching up O'Connell Street, the protesters returned and reoccupied the bridge for over an hour.

Other marchers staging peaceful protests included residents from the controversial Priory Hall development as well as campaigners against austerity measures.

Large numbers of the travelling public had to abandon buses to walk home.

It took several hours for services to return to normal.

AA Roadwatch reported long delays all over the city as a result of the disruption.

As one group caused major traffic havoc on O'Connell Street, protesters on Molesworth Street organised themselves into peaceful so-called “people's committees” which also caused tailbacks.

Gardai were prepared for the protest on the southside of the city and placed barriers around the Dail from Tuesday night.

A garda representative said three people were arrested and three others were hospitalised — two individuals suffered injuries from pepper spray and another was injured trying to climb the barrier.

But there were huge traffic delays as a group of 300 protesters broke from the main anti-Government protest at Leinster House.

Speaking outside the Dail this morning, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the scenes were “a disgrace”.

By Luke Byrne Conor Feehan Alan O’Keeffe

Online Editors

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