Gardaí review security breach at Glasnevin WW1 event

Behaviour of Republican protesters described as a ‘total and utter disgrace’

President Higgins and the Duke of Kent were heckled by dissident republicans during the unveiling of the Cross of Sacrifice in Glasnevin cemetary. Peter Murtagh reports.

Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 07:17

A review is being carried out into security breaches at last week’s first World War commemoration in Glasnevin cemetery which was disrupted by dissident Republicans.

President Michael D Higgins’ speech at the unveiling of the Cross of Sacrifice last Thursday was interrupted by a small group of protesters who climbed on to the railings of the cemetery and shouted abuse at him.

The unveiling of the cross to the Irishmen who died in the first World War was attended by the Duke of Kent, Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers and diplomatic representatives from many countries, along with representatives of both the British and Irish defence forces.

Two men were arrested following public order offences. One has already been in court, while the other is due to appear on August 15th.

A Garda spokesman said: “Reviews are carried out by An Garda Síochána after every such incident in order to identify areas where improvements may be made. Such lessons learned can then be introduced into future policing plans for similar events.

“An Garda Síochána strive to maintain a balance between the right to peaceful protest, upholding public order and facilitating the free passage of the public in general.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has described the behaviour of protesters as “indefensible”.

“People under law are quite entitled to air their views if it is a contrary view. However, bad manners are inexcusable and what happened in Glasnevin was indefensible,” he said.

“People should have allowed the President to make his remarks and I think to deny free speech and to holler people in the manner in which it occurred was simply bad manners.”

Glasnevin Trust chief executive George McCullough described the protests as a “total and absolute disgrace”, especially the heckling of President Higgins.

He said there had been both a health and safety and security breach in allowing the protesters to get on the railings and disrupt the ceremony.

He described many of those involved as “misguided young teenage people led by more sinister forces. There was one guy, a drug user who was spaced out of his head, and he was howling.”

The Royal British Legion Republic of Ireland president David O’Morchoe said many of those who attended the service were upset by the demonstrations.

“It was obvious that there are some people who do feel strongly about the participation of Irishmen in World War One, but I’m glad to say it was just a small element that was there,” he said.