DGN blames Government and Garda for disturbances


The Dublin Grassroots Network (DGN) this morning laid the blame for last night's disturbances outside the Phoenix Park squarely at the feet of the Government and the Garda accusing both of stoking up tensions in the run up to May Day.

In a statement the DGN also said the reaction of the gardai to "isolated pushing and shoving" last night was totally unnecessary as there was "never any chance that the crowd would break through police lines".

Last night the Taoiseach Mr Ahern paid tribute to the Garda handling of the disturbances, saying that while he was disappointed they took place  he was "happy with the way the Garda Siochana have handled the situation".

Superintendent John Farrelly also 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."

The DGN, in a statement released this morning, said that their 'Bring the Noise' march to Farmleigh was about "the freedom of assembly and opinion" and accused the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell deliberately seeking "trouble and arrests to justify his multi-million euro [security] operation".

"We are told that we 'provoked' the police," the DNG said. "But this was not a question of ordinary gardai somehow losing the run of themselves. It was a command decision to pull back the ordinary gardai and attack a crowd of several thousand people. Those baton charges very nearly provoked a full-scale panic, in which people would have been trampled. This has nothing to do with keeping the peace."

The group accepted that while "some cans and bottles were thrown", the garda response was totally out of proportion to the risks posed by the marchers.

"We have spoken to several eyewitnesses who saw people beaten, thrown over walls, or hit on the head, even while sitting down," the statement says. "This police reaction was unnecessary. There was never any chance that the crowd would break through police lines".

"The Government wanted a riot, and no doubt that is how they will describe this. If so, it was not protestors who were rioting."

The group pointed out that the vast majority of the weekend events were "cheerful, friendly and colourful" and passed off peacefully. DGN said it remained committed to defend the right to free assembly and said they would not "give up the right to protest".