04 March 2006

Riots march group appeal for Dublin rally return

Irish Independent

Ministers and gardai shockedby sudden Love Ulster request

Tom Brady and Brian Dowling

GARDAI are to seriously consider allowing another attempt to hold a Love Ulster march through the centre of Dublin.

Ultimately public safety will determine if it should go ahead.

A request from the rally organisers yesterday to return to Dublin as soon as possible took the Government and gardai by surprise.

Ministers are anxious the democratic right to hold a march here should be upheld.

But they did not anticipate that a request would be made so soon after last Saturday's riots.

The rally had to be called off after violent rioting erupted on the streets and 14 people, including six gardai, were injured.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Justice Minister Michael McDowell both said that a decision on the march would be made by the Garda authorities and they did not have a role to play in reaching that decision.

Government sources added that the primary issues of public order and public safety were best left to the gardai to make an assessment.

The question of issuing licences for potentially difficult marches or parades had arisen a few years ago but had been rejected.

Garda management said they had not yet received a "formal" request from the Love Ulster organisers but would consider it fully against the background of the tension that had arisen as a result of last weekend's incidents.

The timing of the march is likely to be a key factor in reaching a decision on whether it should be held here.

Garda security advisers would be unlikely to sanction another march in the coming weeks because of the fallout from the violence.

Senior officers want to complete their inquiries, establish if any of the violence was orchestrated, identify the reasons for the rioting and pinpoint what lessons can be learnt for policing future demonstrations.

Mr McDowell has already indicated that policing for other city centre events, such as the St Patrick's Day parade and the 1916 commemorations will have to be reviewed in wake of the trouble.

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