26 remanded on public order offences following clashes


26 of the 29 protesters charged with public order offences at a special sitting of the Dublin District Court at Cloverhill Detention Centre have been remanded in custody. The other three people charged were released on bail.

Most of the people who charged just before midnight last night are Irish nationals. Two Britons, an American and a Swiss national were also arrested.
The Taoiseach Mr Ahern has paid tribute to the Garda handling of the disturbances which marred the EU enlargement celebrations in Dublin as the clean-up operation got under way.

The trouble broke out at the end of a largely peaceful day in the Dublin as several earlier marches made their way through the city centre in glorious sunshine without incident.

Police reinforcements in riot gear were called in when the demonstrators tried to break through garda lines on the Navan Road after being warned they would not be allowed to proceed any closer to the gates of Phoenix Park.

The crowd of protesters largely dispersed as they were driven back into the city centre by riot police and water cannons after clashes lasting almost an hour.

Superintendent John Farrelly defended the gardai's handling of the trouble.

"We had a job to do," he said. "The job we had to do was to protect society, to protect the people in the park and the situation was that has been achieved.

"If people want to try to take over the streets of this country or this city or anything else, well they can't do that. That's anarchy and it doesn't work."

Rory Hearne of the Another Europe is Possible group claimed the police response was heavy-handed.

"I don't believe the garda security presence was necessary," he said. "People wanted their right to march, their right to march was denied."

The organisers of the march, the Dublin Grassroots Network, said they hoped the protest would be peaceful, but they could not exercise control over everyone who took part.

The two water cannons used during the disturbances had been borrowed from the Police Service of Northern Ireland amid concerns of violent protests and last night was the first time such machines had been deployed in the State.

Their acquisition was part of one of the largest security operations ever mounted in the country to coincide with the arrival of the 25 European heads of state.

All police leave was cancelled and around 5,000 officers were on the streets as the total security bill for the day was expected to reach up to 4 million euros.