A SEA of 500 uniformed gardaí suffocated a riot that erupted briefly a few hundred yards from where Queen Elizabeth II was due to attend a formal dinner at Dublin Castle.
Three people were arrested after gardaí ran at a crowd of around 125 protestors and corralled a group of up to 50 for a number of hours before peace was restored.
The protest was organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Committee (CSM), linked to the Real IRA and Republican Sinn Féin, associated with the Continuity IRA.
The groups, estimated by gardaí to number 75, were joined by around 50 local criminals and malcontents. The CSM led the protest and the violence.
The groups began to assemble separately at St Patrick’s Cathedral from 5pm and moved off just after 6pm. Gardaí flanked them as they marched to the junction of Lord Edward Street where they were met with a wall of gardaí, two-deep, behind control barriers.
After a period of shouting, they marched back and headed up Thomas Street to where another protest was being held, by Éirígí, a republican political party.
Some 300 were attending this protest, which was manned by around 20 stewards in fluorescent jackets.
There was a bizarre moment when rival chanting was going on between the two protests. Some 50 people at the Éirígí protest joined the CSM protest.
One garda source said the CSM didn’t know what to do and marched back to Christchurch, where the trouble erupted.
At 6.50pm bangers and fireworks were thrown at the uniformed gardaí, who wore standard uniform and were not wearing protective helmets or carrying shields.
A garda source said the fireworks were thrown by the CSM. Glass bottles and stones were also thrown.
Further gardaí arrived and riot police took up positions behind the front line. Some 500 gardaí were assembled, with more in reserve.
After ten minutes, the massed gardaí ran at the protestors who broke up, turned and fled. Within seconds, gardaí had a group of around 50 cornered and restrained three people on the ground. These were arrested and taken away in vans.
By 7.05pm, the gardaí who chased other protestors down to St Patrick’s turned around as order was restored. A garda source said the 50 protestors would not be arrested, but would be corralled for a while.
Some 15 minutes passed before the Éirígí protest reached the junction at Christchurch.
The group chanted rebel slogans, released black balloons and laid a black coffin with the words “British Empire” at the feet of gardaí.
Gardaí estimated around 20 members of the CSM returned and stayed at the back of the protest. They, and a number of drunken individuals, remained after the Éirígí protestors left, requiring a significant garda presence into the night.
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