All changed in Dublin city centre after restive weekend

Garda Commissioner blames drunken element in the crowds for days of disorder

All quiet on the Dublin city centre front: outdoor diners in Temple Bar on Sunday. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

All quiet on the Dublin city centre front: outdoor diners in Temple Bar on Sunday. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

 

The atmosphere around the streets of Dublin’s south city centre was transformed on Monday evening from the disruption of the previous nights to one of happiness and celebration.

By 9pm South William street and Castle Market were filled with crowds as a small group of gardaí stood observing nearby. The crowds were an older demographic than previous nights with most drinking takeaway pints from the nearby bars. However, there didn’t appear to by any issues or confrontations and the mood in the area remained light hearted. This was in stark contrast to the same time on Sunday night when south William street had been cleared and closed off by Garda public order units.

Drinkers and diners filled the outdoor tables along South William Street, Exchequer Street, Dame Court and South Anne Street while the regular Grogan’s customers resumed their pre-pandemic positions on the pavement of Castle Markey soaking up the warm evening rays of sunshine. Gardaí patrolling the area told the Irish Times there had been no problems in the area by 7.30pm.

The only part of the south city which vaguely resembled the previous nights was Temple Bar square where about 80 young teens had gathered with music and drinks. One Garda public order unit circled the square moving on the young revellers a couple of times while one young man was briefly detained outside the Urban Outfitters clothing store shortly after 7pm and gardaí removed bottles of beer from his bag. He was subsequently released.

By 7.45pm about a dozen teenage boys, aged about 14, had gathered on South William street where one tried to steal a bike. But they quickly moved on.

Earlier, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said an element of young drunk people was responsible for causing violent disturbances in Dublin city over the bank holiday weekend.

A Garda vehicle on Grafton street in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday evening. Fourteen people were arrested that night as street disorder continued for a third evening. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A Garda vehicle on Grafton street in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday evening. Fourteen people were arrested that night as street disorder continued for a third evening. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

He criticised the selling of takeaway alcohol from licensed premises, which he said led to people drinking in public places – leading to attacks on gardaí, criminal damage and general public disorder.

However, there was disagreement from some quarters on the root causes for what was happening. Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan said “an outdoor summer can’t be just for those lucky enough to have a garden”.

She argued that “closing off prominent streets only creates an oppressive atmosphere of ‘us and them’ ”.

Ms Boylan said the Garda, Dublin City Council, Ministers and other stakeholders “need to come together and . . . plan for the outdoor summer that we were told to have”.

She added that there is no excuse for anti-social behaviour but there is also no excuse for not having a plan.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu said she had spent the past three evenings walking around town to gauge the issues. “Lots of people socialising responsibly. But there are some intent on causing chaos . . . please stop ruining it for everyone,” she wrote on Twitter.

Greater co-ordination sought

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was one of several politicians who called for greater co-ordination between the council and other parties to manage outdoor socialising.

“What I think the council needs to do is have event-control teams that will work with the guards and work with local businesses . . . so we do have an outdoor summer,” he said.

Speaking in Limerick today, Mr Harris said: “What we had [at the] weekend was violence due to large amounts of young people who had drink taken . . . there was an element within that group who were intent on trouble and causing damage and causing violence . . . and we have a responsibility to respond to that.”

The weekend’s incidents were a spontaneous gathering of young people, and “we didn’t have control of it. And we didn’t have a means of licensing it,” said Mr Harris.

“There’s a lot of drink being taken and inevitably that has ended up then in public order difficulties that we’ve had to deal with,” he added.

Mr Harris rejected criticism that the Garda response in Dublin may have been excessive.

He said gardaí were simply doing their job by responding to violent events: “I would say that our use of force and our policing tactics were appropriate to the situation that we faced.”

‘Sustained attacks’

Mr Harris said people were entitled to make a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc).

“Every use of force is reported upon and is assessed. And if members of the public wish to make complaints they can to the independent Gsoc, who will investigate those and indeed we will be held to account by both the Policing Authority and the Minister [for Justice].”

The Minister, Heather Humphreys, said the weekend’s trouble in Dublin was caused by “only a small number of people” and “the majority of people who have been out and about across the length and breadth of the country have behaved in a very responsible way”.

The Garda public order unit on George’s Street in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday evening. Photograph: PA
The Garda public order unit on George’s Street in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday evening. Photograph: PA

Fourteen people were arrested in Dublin city centre on Sunday night as street disorder continued for a third evening in the capital.

Gardaí said an extensive, high visibility policing operation was put in place by uniformed officers supported by public order units.

“Gardaí encountered significant numbers of groups of youths [teenage and younger adults] who were loitering around the city centre, not involved in outdoor dining/socialising,” noted a Garda statement.

“In total, 14 people were arrested for public order offences in Dublin city centre, including three juveniles who were released and referred for Juvenile Diversion Programme. Four persons received an adult caution, and seven people were charged, with court proceedings to follow.”

Hospital treatment

No injuries to gardaí were reported on Sunday night, but three gardaí were reported injured in earlier disorder over the weekend, while a passerby required hospital treatment after being injured in the disruption.

The arrests on Sunday bring to 47 the total of arrests made over alleged public order offences across the June bank holiday.

Gardaí had used shields and batons amid clashes in the city centre.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Anne Marie Cagney said gardaí had the right to protect themselves.

She blamed the violence on a cohort of “like-minded young individuals, predominately teenagers, who are coming into the city and causing trouble”.

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