Garda Commissioner requests report on policing at eviction of housing protesters

Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has requested a report on the way in which the eviction of housing rights activists from a building at North Frederick Street was policed.

A report on the conduct of gardaí was a central demand from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) in the wake of events on Tuesday.

Earlier in the week, Irish Legal News reported that 700 people took to the streets of Dublin to protest the eviction, which led to five arrests and four protesters being taken to hospital with injuries.

In a statement, Commissioner Harris said An Garda Síochána “respects the right of people to protest peacefully”.

He insisted that gardaí had “showed restraint in the face of physical and verbal abuse from a very small minority” and the people occupying the building had left “peacefully in accordance with the High Court order”.

However, he accepted that the “form of dress used at the event was not correct”, as gardaí should only wear fire retardant hoods in conjunction with a protective helmet.

Images of masked gardaí and unidentified men in balaclavas enforcing the eviction garnered national media attention.

The ICCL said it welcomed the Commissioner Harris’s recognition that the “use of balaclavas” was not correct.

It also called for the report, to be drawn up by Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy, to be made public.