More than 20 anti-lockdown protestors have been arrested after hundreds took part in a march in Dublin.
Ireland’s premier Micheal Martin condemned “thuggish behaviour” and “an unacceptable risk to both the public and gardai” after demonstrators clashed with police in the city’s centre.
A firework was lobbed at officers as protesters attempted to make their way to St Stephen's Green park.
There was a heavy Garda presence around the city centre ahead of the protest, which started at around 2pm.
Hundreds of people who were not wearing face masks took part in the demonstration, while gardai used batons to push protesters away from the park.
Videos of the protest showed a demonstrator point a firework at police before it went off, while other missiles and items were thrown.
Protesters were prevented from gathering in the park after the Office of Public Works closed the gates to the public.
Garda commissioner Drew Harris said 20 people had been taken into custody and other arrests would follow.
“We were aware of this protest and what was intended. We put plans in place and obviously intended to constrain that,” he said.
“Very regrettably, people arrived intent on violence. They engaged in attacks on members of An Garda Siochana including the throwing of a firework type device. There will be a full investigation into this.
“There were some 20 arrests that we have made already and those arrests are continuing. This operation is not over as we pursue individuals who engage in protest and illegal activity today.
“They had no reasonable grounds for being there in the first place so we will pursue particularly those who formed a very hard core to deal with.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he “utterly condemns” the protest, which posed “an unacceptable risk to both the public and gardai”.
He added: said: “The large gathering, in the face of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, showed a complete lack of respect to the people who have made huge sacrifices during this pandemic.
“Nor can we tolerate the thuggish behaviour or attacks on gardai, who have the public’s utmost respect as they continue to protect and serve our society in difficult circumstances.”
Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond also criticised the violent scenes, saying: “From the outset, this protest was ill-advised, fuelled by conspiracy theories and championed by individuals seeking to manipulate the genuine fears of many vulnerable individuals.
“It was disgraceful to see this protest descend into violent scenes with brave members of An Garda Siochana subjected to intolerable physical and verbal abuse.
“Some of the eye witness footage circulating is extremely disturbing and every public representative should condemn these awful scenes.
“The footage appears to show a lit firework being thrown at members of the gardai by one protester, which is truly shameful.”
A spokesperson for An Garda Siochana said: “A number of traffic diversions and other policing measures are currently in place in Dublin this afternoon, Saturday 27th February 2021 in response to a demonstration in the city centre area.
“A policing plan has been implemented and An Garda Siochana will provide a full update when this operation has concluded.”
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