| 10.8°C Dublin

Garda lockdown to keep protesters from Dame Street

GARDAI will mount a round-the-clock watch at the Occupy Dame Street site until after St Patrick's Day.

Officers are determined to use their limited resources to prevent protesters erecting another camp at the Central Bank plaza.

A source told the Herald: "It's not an ideal situation but gardai will have to maintain a visible presence on Dame Street for the foreseeable future."

Last night, scuffles broke out between members of the Occupy movement in Dublin city centre after an unplanned protest march turned ugly.

The protesters' encampment outside the Central Bank was dismantled by gardai in a carefully planned operation in the early hours of yesterday.

Last night campaigners marched on Pearse Street Garda Station, claiming their rights had been violated.

There were angry scenes outside the city centre station when about 70 protesters sought the return of belongings seized in the early morning raid.

The protesters marched from Dame Street to Pearse Street and when they reached the garda station, they were met by a wall of gardai who refused to let them past.

There were scuffles when a small number of protesters tried to confront gardai.

One protester was brought away in an ambulance following the violence while others sustained minor injuries. The protesters demanded the return of belongings, which they said included personal items such as phones, laptops, and information on supporters of the group.

The group claimed that three of its members, two women and a man, had been injured.

Gardai did not make any arrests during the Pearse Street incidents, a garda spokesman told the Herald today.

Three members of the group entered the garda station seeking the return of the protesters' belongings, but no agreement was reached and the protesters disbanded just before 9pm.

Early yesterday, during the operation to dismantle the camp, garda made one arrest. The person was later released without charge.

The area was cleared and then cleaned by City Council workers within two hours.

The protesters had been camping at the site since October in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York, which was shut down in November.

Gardai said last night that apart from being an illegal structure on private property, the camp constituted a serious health and hygiene hazard.

Gardai had earlier appealed to the protesters to remove the camp voluntarily before St Patrick's Day when the parade will pass along Dame Street.

After the demonstrators rejected the plea, senior gardai decided to evict them.

Local traders welcomed the dismantling of the camp, saying it had kept business from the area.

The Occupy movement plans to hold an assembly at 6pm each day at the Central Bank site. One protester said they would like to rebuild the camp.