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Gardai 'prepared' for England fixture




Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin


Gardai are ‘prepared for’ but not expecting any serious trouble from right-wing hooligan elements among England’s soccer supporters for today’s friendly match in the Aviva Stadium, sources say.

Gardai and British police have been in close co-operation since the announcement of the match in preparation for any organised violence, particularly given the England fans’ history of violence in Dublin and elsewhere.

The main area of concern for both forces remains the right-wing racist elements associated with such groups as Combat 18 — the same hooligan elements whose predecessors were behind the February 1995 riot at the old Lansdowne Road stadium in which more than 20 people were injured.

The Combat 18 group has been undergoing a revival in recent years and has linked up, particularly with similar elements from other eastern EU countries.

There was tight security for the Ireland vs Poland friendly in the Aviva in March — but this did not prevent a serious assault on one uniformed garda who was badly beaten by some Polish supporters.

The garda, from Irishtown Garda Station, required hospital treatment.

Gardai will have riot police in reserve for today’s match but this is said to be “standard practice” in response to any major public event involving sports or other celebrations.

The ‘riot squad’ (or Public Order Unit) was also in place for possible disturbances in Dublin city centre after last month’s gay marriage referendum but were not called on for duty.

Serious trouble-makers among the England supporters are prevented from travelling under Football Banning Orders with around 3,000 of these FBOs currently issued by British police forces

The match is due to kick off at 1pm - with the early start chosen in an attempt to minimise drinking by fans.

The following roads will be closed to through traffic from 11am on: the remainder of Lansdowne Rd from Shelbourne Rd to Pembroke Rd, Shelbourne Rd, Beatty’s Ave and Ballsbridge Ave.

Sunday Independent