You are viewing the content for Monday 27 February 2006

Riot was ‘work of drunken teenagers’

By Jimmy Woulfe
THE garda chief in charge of policing the loyalist parade in Dublin insisted the riot was the work of drunken teenagers, most of whom did not belong to any political grouping.

Assistant Commissioner Al McHugh said garda intelligence, including information passed on by the PSNI, did not indicate a high grade counter-protest was going to take place.

Mr McHugh said many of those involved in the violence had been drinking in some pubs in Dublin and used the opportunity to commit random violence.

"Most of the people involved were non party, they weren’t part of any political group.

"If you look at the age group - there were 42 people arrested - many of those were 16 and 17 years of age. Technically they were children.

"Society has a lot of questions to answer if young people of that age come in and behave in the manner in which they behaved. It is not just a garda issue."

Mr McHugh, who heads the Dublin Metropolitan Region, said their advance intelligence did not predict anything like the violence which unfolded.

The garda policing plan, he said, was based on intelligence which suggested the parade was "low risk".

The assistant commissioner said gardaí had detailed talks with many groups, including Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) who, it had emerged, wanted to hold a counter-demonstration.

He said: "As time went by, we were depending on intelligence. We normally don’t speak about intelligence, but certainly it was clear there was a counter-protest - but no intelligence whatsoever to indicate that the violence or even planned violence that took place in Dublin yesterday was going to take place."

Mr McHugh said the intelligence did not indicate any ‘high grade’ protest would take place.

He said: "Republican Sinn Féin took up their position at the top end of O’Connell Street but what effectively happened was the parade was hijacked by a number of hoodlums and gangsters who came out of a lot of the local pubs - they were hell bent in causing damage and they were armed with hammers and petrol bombs."

Mr McHugh added: "What I am saying is, at half-past twelve when the planned march was to leave Parnell Square, all of these people came out of local pubs, many of them fuelled with alcohol, and as time went by they vented their anger on the guards when the protest was not going down O’Connell Street."