Gardaí on alert for Dublin protest


Gardaí have warned there may be “individuals and groups” seeking to exploit the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s (Ictu) protest rally against the Government’s austerity plan in Dublin city centre tomorrow.

There were violent scenes during a student protest in Dublin earlier this month. The Union of Students in Ireland blamed “left-wing” groups for the trouble.

Chief Supt Michael O'Sullivan said gardaí are both “alert to and prepared for” the possibility of disturbances at tomorrow's march.

“While our policing plan is primarily focused on crowd safety, it will also aim to prevent any disruption of tomorrow’s demonstration," he said. “In addition we will gather evidence of any unlawful or criminal behaviour which might occur with the intention of bringing those responsible before the courts.”

Congress general secretary David Begg said the march and rally would be a family-friendly event which would be peaceful, good humoured and very well stewarded.

Supt O’Sullivan said although experience has shown it is possible for thousands of people to march through Dublin in a dignified and civilised manner, “there are individuals and groups who seek to exploit such events for their own ends”.

He said gardaí are liaising with the rally organisers and groups involved and advised people to observe instructions from Ictu stewards and gardaí.

“We are very conscious that normal business will continue in the city centre and we are working with the traders and city centre businesses to minimise disruption to their workers and customers," he said. "Our priority is to ensure that the people who travel to Dublin city centre to take part in the Ictu demonstration can do so safely and peacefully.”

Unite trade union’s Jimmy Kelly said people struggle to take back responsibility for their future from a failed political leadership.

He called on all workers, community groups, families and people who believe in a positive future to take to the streets from noon.

“Saturday’s protest is organised by the trade unions that represent the biggest single social group in the state,” said Mr Kelly. “It needs to reach beyond that though, to every home, every group, every gathering in this country.”

Those taking part will assemble at 11.30am on Winetavern Street, Dublin and proceed along the north quays to the GPO on O’Connell Street where a rally will take place. There will be a programme of entertainment and speeches for about one hour.

The master of ceremonies will be Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole and artists such as Christy Moore and Frances Black will perform.

Mr Begg declined to estimate the numbers that would attend tomorrow’s march.

A number of traffic restrictions will be in place along the route including: Memorial Road, Matt Talbot Bridge, Tara Street, Burgh Quay, O’Connell Street, Parliament Street, Wellington Quay, Nicholas Street, Christchurch Area, Nassau Street, Dawson Street, South Georges Street, Dame Street and Fishamble Street.