Gardaí 'prepared' for loyalist march
Mr Shatter said he was “not yet entirely clear what is intended for Saturday”.
As of this afternoon, gardaí have not yet received a formal request from chief organiser of the planned protest, Willie Frazer, to stage the event.
Garda sources said an approach was anticipated. Until a formal request has been received, the specific arrangements for any protest on Saturday could not be put in place. However, sources said it was anticipated that should the protesters seek permission to rally, they will be granted permission and are expected to number at least 150.
Mr Frazer said if gardaí told him there was going to be serious trouble he would not come to Dublin on Saturday.
“If the gardaí come to us and say listen there’s going to be massive trouble in Dublin we will say well ok then there is no point in us going down to Dublin. We are not going to be used as a scapegoat for the arrogance and ignorance of republicans,” Mr Frazer told Niall Boylan on Classic Hits 4FM last night.
Gardaí will stipulate where they can rally and how many people can participate. If any group turns up in Dublin without first seeking permission from the force, they would most likely be prevented from protesting outside buildings designated as a security risk, such as the Dáil.
The front line of the Garda operation for any planned rally would be uniformed officers, who are unarmed. However, the Public Order Unit would be on standby in large vehicles outside key locations, such as the Dáil and Government Buildings, and will have batons and shields as well as access to an array of less than lethal weapons.
Buses would also be parked in other streets and at the ready to transport gardaí in riot gear to any location where trouble might flare.
The Special Detective Unit, which carries firearms, would also be involved as well as other units such as the Garda Mounted Unit and Garda Dog Unit, along with the helicopter monitoring ground conditions.
The National Surveillance Unit will also be deployed on the ground and will be monitoring the loyalist protest and the counter-protest mooted by dissident republicans.