Saturday 16 December 2017

Security cordon chokes streets of protesters

Fergus Black and Louise Hogan

CROKE Park swiftly turned into choke park as a major ring of steel descended around the home of the GAA.

Big events at the stadium normally attract tens of thousands of sports or music fans.

But yesterday -- a day hailed as a 'momentous' for the nation -- the main road approaching the arena was almost entirely deserted. Local residents hoping to catch a glimpse of the queen inside her armour-plated Range Rover Vogue were very sorely disappointed.

"We watched the (royal) wedding for the glamour. We would have preferred if they (Wills and Kate) were coming over. We've been told we can stay as long as we keep moving. We just can't stop," said college student Avril Mullery (21) and her friends Tara Gaffney (21) and Ciara Lyng (21).

Those living on the vicinity of Croker were told they had to stay in their houses, while anyone hoping to lean up against the barrier for a quick glimpse of the royal party were quickly told to leave the area.

Such was the depth of the security cordon that Republican Sinn Fein protesters only managed to get within a kilometre of the ground before their march was brought to a halt.

Disturbances

"I am a member of the GAA myself and we're disappointed we couldn't get closer to Croke Park to make our protest," Republican Sinn Fein president Des Dalton said.

He claimed gardai had "singled out" his organisation at the original assembly point in the city and had told them they would not be allowed inside any cordon.

Commenting on Tuesday's disturbances near the Garden of Remembrance, Mr Dalton accused gardai of using a "heavy-handed" approach and claimed two elderly women who were members of his organisation had been punched.

Nearby, the scene could not have been more different as well-wishers waved and clapped as the royal entourage passed up along the side of Mountjoy Square.

"A lot has happened in the past but it is a sign of a mature nation. Some have more right to dwell than others by the same token you have to move forward," Noelle Fitzpatrick, who works with the Jesuits nearby, added. "It is a pity more couldn't be out on the streets. The benefit of the visit is much more than economic."

Irish Independent

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