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remarks clarified No evidence of ‘extreme left’ factions at anti-lockdown protest, says Garda Commissioner

It comes after the Commissioner said that gardai "saw elements of both the far left and far right engaged in this as well.”

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking to the media after an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin on Saturday. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking to the media after an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin on Saturday. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking to the media after an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin on Saturday. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire

The Garda Commissioner has clarified there is no evidence of “extreme left factions” at yesterday’s anti-lockdown protest.

A large demonstration took place in Dublin’s city centre yesterday against current Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, with more than 20 people arrested, 13 charged, and three gardaí injured.

Speaking on RTÉ yesterday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that “we saw elements of both the far left and far right engaged in this as well.”

However, in a statement today, Mr Harris clarified that: “Despite initial indications, following further investigation, there is no corroborated evidence of extreme left factions being involved.”

“The vast majority of those who took part belong to a number of factions including anti-vaccine, anti-mask and anti-lockdown protestors, far right groups, and those intent on trouble and disorder.”

The clarification comes after some took issue with the Commissioner’s use of the term “far left”, with Rise TD Paul Murphy saying: “The far left were clearly not involved in what was a far right demo.”

Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Mick Barry said: “His claim that far left groups were involved in the protest should be substantiated or else he should withdraw it and apologise.”

“I will use the platform of the Dáil next week to challenge this completely unsubstantiated allegation.”

On Newstalk this morning, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that the Commissioner was referring to “violent republican groups” when discussing “far left” elements of the protest.

“My understanding, and the Garda Commissioner has clarified this, he was referencing in terms of the far left: violent republican groups. And that’s exactly who he was referring to when he said the ‘far left’ and the ‘far right’,” she said.

“I think his remarks, as I said, when he referenced the ‘far left’, were in reference to more violent republican groups, not in any political persuasion.”

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“We can see that a lot of the people who were there yesterday were there with intent on causing harm, so that’s what he was referring to.”

“We need to monitor this type of situation and make sure that these types of groups are not using what is a very difficult situation for many people as a vehicle of other types of activities and other types of destruction.”

The Minister added that the situation did escalate quite quickly, but gardaí were able to identify many of the organisers and they have been charged.

“These types of events, they do happen very quickly, I suppose the information about when they’re happening, where they’re happening, come up very quickly. So, you have to try and gather up that information, but that is what the Gardaí do,” she said.

“The vast majority of people there were not there for peaceful protest, they were there to cause destruction and harm.”


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