Protest policing complaints double

 

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has received 28 complaints about the behaviour of gardaí at a student demonstration in Dublin last Wednesday.

The number of complaints received by the Ombudsman has more than doubled in the last two days.

The largest student protest in a generation was marred when some protesters were involved in violent clashes with gardaí.

Bricks, beer cans, eggs and placards were used as missiles and some protesters suffered cuts to the head and bloody noses. One garda was admitted to hospital with a broken nose, while two others were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The Garda’s public order unit, or riot squad, was deployed during the clashes and the force’s mounted unit and dog unit were also used to help bring the protest under control.

The complaints to the ombudsman centre on allegations gardaí used excessive force during disturbances at the end of the rally and were “heavy-handed” in their dealings with protesters.

A spokesman said investigators would review each complaint and decide whether it was admissible or not before beginning an investigation. He could not say how long any investigation would take.

The Union of Students in Ireland, which mobilised over 25,000 for the protest, distanced itself from a group of breakaway protesters involved in clashes outside the Department of Finance on Merrion Street, Dublin.

It blamed “left-wing” groups for the “destructive and anti-social violence” which it said would only divert attention from its campaign against higher student fees.

Supporters of Sinn Féin, the Socialist Workers Party and republican socialist group Éirígí were prominent among about 50 protesters who made it inside the Department of Finance building, only to be swiftly ejected by gardaí.

Three people were arrested during the protest. One was released without charge. The other two were charged with criminal damage and breach of the peace offences and released.