27/02/2006

Minister to receive Garda report on Dublin riot

An initial Garda report into the sectarian riot in Dublin on Saturday is expected to be made to Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell later today.

Irish police made 42 arrests following the street violence that broke out on Saturday as Ulster loyalists staged a Love Ulster rally and republicans staged a counter protest march.

The Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has said that he expected further arrests to be made today. Gardai have been studying CCTV footage of the rioting and looting that broke out during the protest.

One of Dublin's senior police officers said that there had been no warning that protests on the scale seen had been planned. While accepting this, Mr McDowell has dismissed calls for a public inquiry and attacked those responsible as thugs who could not be allowed to decide who should exercise their civil liberties.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain said that the incident was a one-off and that it would not affect political negotiations.

The violence erupted when a counter protest by republicans clashed with Gardai at around 1pm on Saturday February 25 at O'Connell Bridge, Nassau Street, Aston Quay, and Fleet Street.

Six Gardai required hospital treatment for injuries during the skirmishes with protestors and the Garda Representative Association has called for an inquiry.

Republican Sinn Fein, who had organised the protest against the Love Ulster rally, have blamed Irish authorities for allowing the march to take place.

Retailers in Dublin's O'Connell Street shopping area estimate that the riot will have cost them millions of euro. Shoppers fled the busy shopping centre on Saturday as running battles broke out between police and protestors.

Shop windows were broken, there was some looting, and a number of cars were damaged.

(SP/GB)

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