PROTESTERS at the Occupy Dame Street camp were removed today as part of a major garda operation.
Up to 150 officers were involved in dismantling the makeshift camp -- located on the steps of the Central Bank in the south inner city.
Gardai entered the camp at around 3.15am and physically removed up to 15 demonstrators.
The Central Bank confirmed to the Herald that it requested gardai to dismantle the camp and remove the protesters.
However, some of the demonstraters alleged gardai used an "unacceptable level of force" after entering tents and huts.
A garda spokesperson said they were left with "no option" but to remove the protesters and that requests for them to leave of their own accord were not met.
"In recent weeks gardai communicated with the demonstraters but this request was not met. With the St Patrick's Day celebrations approaching, it is the gardai's priority that all events pass off smoothly and that the health and safety of members of the public is maintained."
The spokesperson confirmed that one person was arrested.
At 6am, the Herald witnessed skirmishes as a number of protesters were surrounded by gardai and brought to the ground.
One of these struggled as gardai tried to move him from the scene and was eventually moved away and into the back of an awaiting garda van.
The area remained tense for a short time as a small crowd gathered at the corner of George Street and Dame Street, but soon dispersed.
Despite the odd fit of anger from the newly displaced protesters, gardai remained generally in good humour as they tried to ensure the situation didn't get out of hand.
Gardai at the scene in the early hours of this morning told the Herald that the protesters were moved out with reasonable ease.
"It was nothing like the drama of New York. There wasn't that many of them there," explained one officer.
"We arrived at around 3.15am and they were moved very quickly. They weren't happy about it but the operation ran smoothly.
"It was well planned so that there wouldn't be any violence or need to be heavy handed."
Around 150 officers were involved in the operation that blocked off a large area of the city centre.
By 5am, only a handful of protesters remained behind the garda cordon stretching from George Street to College Green.
Others had returned to their homes. A digger and large rubbish truck were brought in by Dublin City Council to remove the debris from the camp.
A source said: "There will be a heavy garda presence in the area until St Patrick's Day so that they don't try to set-up again."
A number of protesters became emotional today as they vowed: "This is not the end of Occupy Dame Street."
One young demonstrator, Saoirse Bennett, claimed that she was "flung to the ground" and "stood on" as two officers pulled her from her hut.
"It was horrible. Gardai used a completely unacceptable of force, I was stood on and treated terribly. It was abuse."
Gardai today completely rejected claims that an unacceptable level of force was used in removing the demonstrators.
In a statement to the Herald, a spokesperson for the Central Bank said: "Following serious health and safety and public order concerns raised with the bank by An Garda Siochana, notably in relation to the forthcoming St Patrick's Day events, the bank confirms that it requested the Garda to peacefully remove the occupiers and the encampment from the Central Bank plaza.
"We will continue to take whatever advice is forthcoming from the Garda in terms of the continued safe use of the plaza."
Protesters were scheduling a demonstration at the site for this evening.