One garda was injured during the far-right protest outside Leinster House last week as they came to the aid of someone in the crowd.
Speaking at the Dublin city Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Assistant Commissioner for the Dublin Region Angela Willis praised the “huge restraint and professionalism” of the gardaí who policed the protest.
She said gardaí have a legal obligation to facilitate peaceful protests but that she does not underestimate the concern about the demonstration last Wednesday which has prompted a big security review of Leinster House.
Thirteen people were arrested during protests which saw politicians and staff being threatened, jostled and harassed. Most of these arrested were detained as they attempted to block staff from leaving the building.
Gardaí are currently examining CCTV and social media footage of the protest, which featured a mock gallows, to identify other offenders.
Ms Willis and members of the JPC commended the gardaí on the ground, including the Public Order Unit, which she said succeeded in “protecting life and property”.
One garda was injured while coming to the assistance of someone who had entered the crowd of protesters. This person entered the crowd despite gardaí having advised them not to, the assistant commissioner said.
“From my perspective, those members acted with huge restraint in a very, very difficult situation.”
It’s understood the injury was of a minor nature and was described as an occupational injury by sources.
There have been 420 protests in the Dublin region so far this year. Ms Willis said gardaí themselves become a target at such protests. In many cases “anger and vitriol” has been directed at members, she said.
In total, gardaí in Dublin have arrested 43 people across 15 protests this year. Thirty two of these arrests were for public order offences, Ms Willis said.
Regarding the Leinster House incident, a senior investigating officer has been appointed to investigate the “wider aspects of what went on that day.” This will result in a file to the DPP and possible further charges, she said.
Regarding the ongoing dispute over rosters between garda representatives and management, Ms Willis said the reintroduction of the pre-pandemic roster will provide better policing responses at peak times, such as weekend nights.
She said no garda stations will close or be on reduced hours as a result of the reintroduction of the roster and areas such as community, drugs and roads policing will be improved.
However several councillors expressed serious concerns that the roster will significantly impact the provision of community policing services in their areas.
Ms Willis said the pre-pandemic roster is only been reintroduced until a new one can be formulated. Garda representatives are to meet again with Commission Drew Harris on the matter on Tuesday.
In relation to violence in Dublin city centre, Ms Willis outlined how the extra €10 million provided by Government is being used. This includes education programmes in schools and increasing garda visibility.
A pilot programme involving the use by gardaí of electric bikes in the city is ongoing, she said. The bikes make gardaí more visible and allow them to cover more ground, the JPC heard.