Inquiry ordered into police use of clubs to break up anti-capitalist protest

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The Independent Online

The Irish government has ordered an investigation into police handling of an anti-capitalist rally in Dublin, which left 12 people injured in the worst violence in the city for years.

The Irish government has ordered an investigation into police handling of an anti-capitalist rally in Dublin, which left 12 people injured in the worst violence in the city for years.

Television footage broadcast yesterday of Monday's rally showed officers pushing and clubbing protesters and pulling away their banners, as they attempted to disperse the crowd of about 250 people. Twenty- four people were arrested, including a photographer from the Irish Independent who was covering the event.

The rally was organised by the "Reclaim the Streets" lobby, a loose network of groups opposed to globalisation and the excessive use of cars in cities. Spray-painted signs had advertised a "street party", but what had begun peacefully ended in a confrontation between gardai and the crowd after protesters refused to move. Gardai reacted by drawing their batons and moving in on the crowd, some of whom were chanting and beating drums.

Rob Sixsmith, a student, said the gardai appeared "overwrought". David Loughran, a local resident, said he had not been part of the demonstration but had been astonished at the behaviour of the gardai who, he said, seemed to have used "great force".

John O'Donoghue, the Justice Minister, said the government would ensure that the report on Monday's events produced "full accountability". If any officers were "guilty of assault going beyond the norm of reasonable force, then they can be charged", he said.

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