Large Garda presence planned for St Patrick’s Day protests

More than 2,500 gardaí will be on duty across State with checks on roads into Dublin

A Garda checkpoint  on Victoria Quay, Dublin, this week. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

A Garda checkpoint on Victoria Quay, Dublin, this week. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

A large Garda presence is planned for Dublin city centre on St Patrick’s Day to deal with a number of planned protests.

An Garda Síochána has appealed to the public to avoid all non-essential journeys to Dublin city centre on Wednesday, as a number of cordons will be in place, as part of a policing plan to deal with the protests.

Several people were arrested during a large protest against Covid-19 lockdown restrictions held in the city centre two weeks ago, following violent clashes with gardaí.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Garda said it had prepared a “significant policing operation” to respond to protests organised on social media by disparate groups, at several locations in Dublin city.

A large number of gardaí will be on duty in the city, along with the public order unit, dog unit, mounted unit, as well as air support.

Checkpoints will be set up on main roads heading into the city, with checks to take place on public transport over the day, to ask whether people are travelling more than 5km of their home, without any essential reason.

One of the protests is to take place in Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, and is supported by groups who have opposed lockdown restrictions, such as Yellow Vest Ireland. The gathering has been described as a “mental health initiative” in social media posts advertising the protest.

A separate protest is planned to take place at the same time outside RTÉ, Donnybrook, before marching into Dublin city centre.

More than 2,500 gardaí will be on duty on St Patrick’s Day across the country. Gardaí will focus high visibility patrols on public amenities and beauty spots, and conduct checkpoints aimed at people travelling to exercise outside of their 5km limit.

Efforts will be made to target and break up any large gatherings or house parties taking place.

“Despite constant and consistent public health advice, An Garda Síochána continues to find people gathering in large groups at social occasions and at house parties,” a Garda spokeswoman said.

A total of 429 people have been issued fines of €500 for organising house parties, and 1,677 people have been fined €150 by gardaí for attending a house party.

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, warned people against meeting up and socialising in groups indoors on St Patrick’s Day, or attending protests.

Deputy Garda Commissioner for policing and security, Anne Marie McMahon, said it would not be a “normal St Patrick’s Day,” but people could celebrate the day in their home.

“As is the case with all protests, An Garda Síochána seeks to engage with protest groups in advance. However, some groups choose not to engage with us. It should also be noted that An Garda Síochána has no role in licensing or approving such protests,” she said.

Ms McMahon cautioned people to remember they were not permitted to travel to locations further than 5km from their home for exercise, under current Level 5 restrictions.