On Saturday, Sgt James Twomey said: “The story is, there is a group that believes the people living in that house are carrying out criminal activity... We are investigating.”
More than 200 people, including onlookers and protesters gathered at Railway Square in the city after 5pm on Saturday, when a rally over public order issues turned ugly.
Before 6pm, prior to the arrival of armed gardaí, more than 70 people then made their way to the back of a house at nearby Closegate in the inner city centre. Fewer than 10 gardaí were present for the first hour at least.
Gardaí moved to secure the area and the crowd finally dispersed nearly five hours later, with one person arrested but later released.
Sgt Twomey said reinforcements “had to be called in from Tramore”, while the armed Garda unit was also tasked to prevent the mob entering the house. Armed gardaí had to escort about 20 residents, a number of them children, to a secure location.
“I haven’t seen anything like this since the drug protests in Dublin in the ’80s,” said Sgt Twomey at the scene.
Temperatures have been rising in the city in recent weeks after a number of muggings, beatings, and intimidation were reported to gardaí.
Sinn Féin councillor John Hearne, who has been liaising with locals and gardaí on the public order issue, last night said that “the garda told me they had nine criminals charged and had being putting in successful raids”.
He added: “The best thing was to not get in their way but I do understand the frustration people feel about the levels of crime in the area and I’ve called for people to avoid that area for their own safety.”