Garda Commissioner requests report into policing of Dublin eviction

Garda Commissioner requests report into policing of Dublin eviction
Pic: John Rooney

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has requested a report after members of the force wore balaclavas at a housing protest in Dublin's North Inner City on Tuesday night.

Images surfaced following a demonstration by activist group Take Back The City.

Gardaí attended the scene on North Frederick Street on Tuesday as people occupying a property were evicted, but they were criticised for wearing balaclavas while attending the disturbance on the street.

Commissioner Harris said the balaclava is a fire retardant hood which is "designed to protect the safety of our members".

However, he did point out that the balaclava should have been worn along with a protective helmet according to Garda policy.

He has requested a report from on the incident to see what lessons can be learned.

Garda Commissioner requests report into policing of Dublin eviction

Commissioner Harris said: "An Garda Síochána respects the right of people to protest peacefully.

"An Garda Síochána’s role at such events is to facilitate lawful protest while protecting the rights of others to do their lawful work safely – in this case carrying out an order of the High Court.

"Our objective with any such operation is to ensure the safety of the public."

"Every year, An Garda Síochána polices a wide-range of lawful protests in this manner.

"In relation to this specific incident, whilst preserving peace and public order, a graduated response was taken in line with the prevailing circumstances.

"At the start of this event, An Garda Síochána deployed three community policing officers to oversee the safe compliance of a High Court order.

Pic: John Rooney
Pic: John Rooney

"As the atmosphere at the event grew more tense, a small number of public order officers were deployed to ensure public safety. The use of a fire retardant hood by public order officers is a matter for the operational commander on the ground and is designed to protect the safety of our members based on a risk assessment.

"However, the form of dress used at the event was not correct as it is policy that if it is deemed necessary to use the hood then it should be used in tandem with a protective helmet."

"A directive has issued today from Deputy Commissioner, Policing & Security, to re-enforce this requirement to all personnel.

"In addition, I have requested a report from Assistant Commissioner, DMR, to see what lessons can be learnt from the event.

"Members of An Garda Síochána showed restraint in the face of physical and verbal abuse from a very small minority.

"I condemn the racist abuse suffered by an individual member of An Garda Síochána working at the event."

"The people who had occupied the building left the building peacefully in accordance with the High Court order. Subsequent to this, a small crowd failed to leave the area despite repeated warnings from An Garda Síochána under the Public Order Act and five people were arrested.”

Earlier the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended the Gardaí.

Mr Varadkar said: "I think, like a lot of people, I didn't like to see a private security firm in balaclavas. I don't think that's the kind of image anybody wants to see.

"However, in the case of the Gardaí, we've checked this, they were wearing hoods, in some cases ski masks. They wear hoods in case there is a risk of fire or something being thrown at them, and they wear the ski masks, in some cases, to protect their identities.

"But in all cases, they had their badges and those badges were visible."

- Digital Desk

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