Riots cease in Dublin against Unionist march
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Dublin, Ireland following riots in which a counter-demonstration against marches in the city descended into violence that engulfed the city centre. Shops on some of Dublin's major thoroughfares including , and were closed as the Garda Riot Squad moved in from , and hundreds of shoppers were caught up in the disturbance.have regained control in
40 protesters have been arrested, and 14 people have been hospitalised, includingmain correspondent , and six gardaí. 13 of the arrested will be dealt with tonight during a special sitting of Dublin District Court.
The riots, which have been described as the worst that Dublin has seen in a quarter of a century, broke out at 12.45 pm. About 1,000 Loyalist protestors, including members of the Northern Ireland in order to march from Parnell Street down to (the seat of the ) on Kildare Street., had travelled from
The march never got underway, however; the protesters were transported to the location by bus following a consultation with gardaí that suggested a march would be unsafe. The march was intended to commemorate victims of Republican paramilitary activity.
Loyalist protesters proceeded to demonstrate outside Leinster House for a short time, but the parade was cancelled as around 300 Republican protestors from across Ireland moved onto Kildare Street. Gardaí ordered major premises to shut as the violence increased. Missiles, fireworks, petrol bombs, and rubble and tools from a building site on O'Connell Street were thrown by Republican protestors onto gardaí. As the rioting proceeded, looting broke out, the Loyalist protesters were advised to leave the region, and cars were burned out between Kildare Street and O'Connell Street.
Political figures, led by, and including leaders of major political parties from across Ireland's political spectrum such as , , the , the Irish , and the have condemned the violence. has commented that "It is the essence of Irish democracy and republicanism that people are allowed to express their views freely and in a peaceful manner. People who want only to attack gardaí and property have no respect for their fellow citizens."
politicians due to participate in the rally, including and deputy leader , have issued a complaint to the , who has admitted that An Garda Síochána were not expecting the level of hostility that was realised. Mr McDowell has also commented that the riots were perpetrated by people who did not understand what Irish republicanism means and who have damaged the cause of Irish unity that they purported to support.
, a party which split from the main body of Sinn Féin in 1986 and which had been involved in the organisation of the counter-demonstration, have declared that it was irresponsible for the authorities to allow the marches to go ahead. It is believed that around €50,000 will be necessary to clear up and repair the damage caused to O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare, and the street will remain closed until tomorrow. It is feared that the riots will have a significant impact on the , and on plans by the Irish government to recommence annual commemorations of the 1916 .