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Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Dublin as senior officials condemn violence

Protest took place on same day as spike in coronavirus cases in city

Sam Hancock
Monday 12 October 2020 13:22 BST
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Anti-lockdown protests in Dublin

Irish officials have condemned an unruly anti-lockdown protest in Dublin, which saw one man arrested amid clashes with the police and counter-demonstrators.

Dozens of police officers struggled to contain the demonstration on Saturday, which took place over two hours, attended by more than 100 locals.

One group, calling themselves Let Ireland Live, included members of the right-wing National Party.  People on both sides reportedly threw punches and kicks while nuts, bolts, fireworks and other projectiles were also launched in anger. After proceedings turned vicious, nearby police officers quickly drew their batons and rushed in to break up the violence.

Hazel Chu, lord mayor of Dublin, criticised the protests for failing to abide by coronavirus safety regulations.

“I would never be one to tell people not to protest - people have a right to be heard, but a lot of traders and the public are telling me they don’t feel safe in the city,” she told the Irish Times.

“We are asking people to restrict their movements, to adhere to social distancing and then they see things like this. I think we have to make sure people who are protesting also adhere to these measures,” she said.

Officers arrested two men - one in his 30s and the second in his 40s - for public order offences following the protest on Saturday. Only one of the men was subsequently charged, he will appear in court next month. 

Various Irish politicians condemed protesters for breaking social distancing measures and, as one Sinn Féin councillor put it, for disrespecting fellow citizens and failing to “look out for other people in society”.

Social Democrats joint leader Catherine Murphy told reporters “very few people will thank them for what they’re doing in a pandemic”. 

Ms Murphy also pointed to the irony of the protest taking place on Saturday as figures show this was a day when the numbers of Covid-19 cases were particularly high, she said.

On Sunday it was reported that a further two people had died from coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland - and of the 814 new cases being reported, 226 originated from Dublin. 

These latest figures bring the total number of Covid-19 deaths to 1,826 in Ireland, with a total of 42,528 cases confirmed in the Republic since the start of the pandemic.

Micheál Martin, Ireland’s taoiseach, released a statement on Sunday warning of the “challenging weeks ahead” that the the country faces.

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