01 March 2006

Gardaí were warned CIRA would target rally

Irish Examiner

By Cormac O'Keeffe

GARDAÍ were given an anonymous letter stating that the Continuity IRA was going to target last Saturday's Love Ulster rally in Dublin, according to the garda report into the riots.

Garda bosses also held six meetings with Dublin City Council to ensure that all building materials on O'Connell Street would be securely kept behind barriers.

The report said "most of the missiles" fired at gardaí came from these sites.

It also found a "significantly larger number" of gardaí were in place for the rally than there normally would be for a protest.

A summary of the garda report given to Justice Minister Michael McDowell was published yesterday.

It said: "The intelligence indicated that Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) and the Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) intended to mount a counter-demonstration in the form of a sit-down protest to stop the Love Ulster Rally proceedings.

"One anonymous letter was sent to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to the effect that the rally was to be a target of the CIRA."

The garda report said a "threat assessment" of the event was carried out based on the "available intelligence" and the experience of gardaí.

It said the RSF "declined to engage in a meaningful manner" regarding their counter-protest.

It also found that in meetings, Dublin City Council "agreed that all building materials would be securely kept behind barriers and would be secured on the street".

"On the day, the site of the renovations at Upper O'Connell Street created significant difficulties for the policing of the hooligan elements that had congregated and joined the counter demonstration.

"Most of the missiles thrown, with the exception of billiard/golf balls and two petrol bombs, came from this site after hooligan elements breached the fencing mounted by the city council."

The report said that a group of 50 RSF/CIRA members at the top of Parnell Street were joined by a "large number of youths from nearby public houses".

It said 348 gardaí were present at the top of O'Connell Street, including 65 public order, or riot, police. There were also 39 members of the Special Detective Unit and 58 local plain clothes personnel in the area. The report said a water cannon was considered, but ruled out.

It said a tactical decision was made not to advance the rioters past the junction of Henry Street for danger of pushing them across the river towards the Love Ulster rally, which had gone by bus to the Dáil.

The report said reinforcements were called "immediately it became clear that gardaí were facing substantial violence" and said these, including 47 riot police, arrived within "a short period".

It said the garda helicopter was not available during the riots as it had developed technical faults.

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