From top: Masked gardai at North Frederick Street on Tuesday night; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris
The use of hoods by gardaí attending a protest on North Frederick Street in Dublin earlier this week was not correct, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said.
In a statement, Mr Harris said the use of fire retardant hoods by public order officers is a matter for the operational commander on the scene.
However, he said the form of dress used by gardaí at the “event was not correct as it is policy that if it deemed necessary to use the hood then it should be used in tandem with a protective helmet“.
” 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.”
….The newly appointed commissioner also said he has requested a report from Patrick Leahy, the Assistant Commissioner for the Dublin Metropolitan Region, “to see what lessons can be learnt from the event.“
“I think like a lot of people, I didn’t like to see a private security firm in balaclavas, that’s the kind of image that anybody doesn’t want to see on their TV screens.
However, when it comes to gardai, they were wearing hoods in one and ski masks in the other. They are wearing 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.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon.
From top: protest on North fFederick Street, Dublin last night; This morning’s Irish Times
On Tuesday late afternoon, “a private firm acting for the owner of the premises” supported by gardai forced their way into 34 North Frederick Street, Dublin 1, vacant for three years, using an angle grinder and a sledgehammer.
Five people were arrested and at least one person was hospitalised during the removal in which some gardai used batons.
Claims made by Take Back the City, the Irish Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International Ireland concerning the tactics used and the ‘frightening’ optics were this morning refuted by Garda sources, according to the Irish Times.
Via Conor Lally the paper’s security and crime editor:
Garda sources have disputed much of what the group has claimed. They say the incident was not an eviction, pointing out those in the building were occupying it as a protest action for weeks, had never lived there and had no substantive link to it.
So. Not an eviction.
They further point out the building was office space before it became vacant some years ago and has not been a residence for many years.
OK. Not even a house.
The protesters had been ordered by the High Court to leave the building by August 28th and had declined to do so.
Justifying the masked men?
A number of men wearing balaclavas, who were acting for the landlord, used power tools to gain access on Tuesday evening to remove the small number of protesters still left inside.
And who were they?
The men wearing the balaclavas were not working for a security company. Instead, they work for a company specialising in taking possession of assets, usually when a dispute of ownership has arisen.
It may seem like a subtle distinction but it means they contravened no laws in declining to identify themselves to the protesters. And that means the Garda was not supporting an illegal action, as has been claimed.
And the gardai wearing balaclavas?
The balaclavas worn by the public order gardaí are part of the Garda “tactical” uniform and they are a safety item; to protect from corrosive liquids and burns.
However, Garda sources said few gardaí deployed to police an event that they suspect will be dubbed an “eviction” would want to be photographed or videoed at it.
They wear them to events they suspect may be called something else by somebody?
And because of the stigma involved, and because they cannot choose their tasks, gardaí will often wear their balaclavas to conceal their identities.
To recap: not an eviction, not a house, not a security company and not balaclavas but identity-concealing safety masks.
Nothing to see here.
Move along, folks.
Last night: Not Backing Down
Previously: The Irish Times Says Sorry To Maurice McCabe
TO PROTECT & SERVE – NO MORE, NO LESS: Congratulations to Frontline Gardai and the Public Order Unit for effecting five arrests at a so described peaceful protest in Dublin last night. Gardai have one job on these occasions – to prevent breaches of the peace & this they will do. pic.twitter.com/FAUnXmlecD
— GRA (@gardarep) September 12, 2018
Go about your business.