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On guard Over 2,500 gardai on duty for St Patrick's Day as public asked to not to attend protests

In line with public health advice, in the first instance, An Garda Síochána would ask people not to organise or attend such protests.”

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Up to 200 gardaí will be on patrol in Dublin city centre tomorrow to avoid a repeat of February's lockdown clashes. Photo: Damien Storan

Up to 200 gardaí will be on patrol in Dublin city centre tomorrow to avoid a repeat of February's lockdown clashes. Photo: Damien Storan

Up to 200 gardaí will be on patrol in Dublin city centre tomorrow to avoid a repeat of February's lockdown clashes. Photo: Damien Storan

More than 2,500 Gardai will be on duty on St Patrick's Day in Dublin as various groups prepare to stage several protests in the city centre. 

Gardai have asked people to stay at home as they prepared to deal with multiple events being planned on social media by “disparate groups in different locations in Dublin city centre."

Top officers say this will require a significant Garda policing operation.

“An Garda Síochána is advising the public to refrain from any non-essential journeys to the city centre on the day as restrictions and cordons will be in place that may hinder easy movement around the city,” a spokesperson said.

A policing plan is in place and a large number of Garda personnel will be on the streets and will be backed up by the dog unit, the mounted unit, air support, and public order.

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Protesters and gardaí clash during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre on Saturday February 27. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire

Protesters and gardaí clash during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre on Saturday February 27. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire

Protesters and gardaí clash during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre on Saturday February 27. Photo: Damian Eagers/PA Wire

“In addition, checkpoints will be in place on arterial routes into the city and checks will be conducted on public transport over the course of St Patrick’s Day,” Gardai added.

“In line with public health advice, in the first instance, An Garda Síochána would ask people not to organise or attend such protests.”

Gardai said that despite “constant and consistent public health advice”, they are still finding people gathering in large groups at social occasions and at house parties.

“Such events put those attending, and everyone they meet afterwards, at risk of catching Covid-19,” Gardai revealed.

As of March 12, the Garda Síochána had issued 429 €500 fines for organising a house party and 1,677 €150 fines for attending a house party.

“On St Patrick’s Day, at any one time, more than 2,500 Gardaí will be on duty across the country,” Gardai added. “They will be engaged in a wide-range of activity to support public health measures.

“This includes high visibility patrolling at public amenities; conducting checkpoints focused on non-essential travel and people exercising outside 5km of their home; road safety activity; managing any large gatherings that may occur, and providing support for the vulnerable including victims of domestic abuse.

“In line with public health advice, in the first instance, An Garda Síochána would ask people not to organise or attend such protests.

In all its engagement with the public, as has been the case during the pandemic, An Garda Síochána will continue to use its 4Es approach – engaging, explaining, and encouraging with enforcement a last resort.

Any Garda activity in relation to evolving events will be in line with this graduated policing response taking into account public health regulations and advice.

Speaking today, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, Anne Marie McMahon said: "While it won’t be a normal St Patrick’s Day, we can still all enjoy the day safely at home.

"Staying home this St Patrick’s Day is the best thing people can do for their country and the best thing they can do for the people they know and love.”

Deputy Commissioner McMahon added: “As is the case with all protests, An Garda Síochána seeks to engage with protests groups in advance. However, some groups choose not to engage with us. It should also be noted that An Garda Síochána has no role in licensing or approving such protests.”

Gardai are also advising the public of the need to plan their activities to take account that people are only allowed to exercise within 5km of their home. In other words, they point out, you can’t travel more than 5km to a location to exercise.

“When visiting amenities within 5km of your home please park legally,” Gardai urged. “Illegal parking can hinder access by emergency services and could put lives at risk. As has been the case previously, people who illegally park are at risk of having their cars towed and impounded.

“The public should also be aware that both drivers and their adult passengers found to be in breach of the non-essential travel regulations can be fined This is also the case for adults in groups undertaking activities such as cycling or walking – every adult in such a group can be fined."

A spokesperson added that travel restrictions do not apply in the case of domestic violence or to escape a risk of harm, whether to the person or to another person.

“An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to any person who may have been the victim of an incident of sexual or domestic crime irrespective of whether you may have been on breach of any public health regulations, for instance by attending a house party, An Garda Síochána is here to assist and support you, please report all such incidents,” they added.

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