Hundreds rally in violent anti-lockdown protest in Ireland

Protesters and Gardai clashing during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre. — PA pic via Reuters
Protesters and Gardai clashing during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre. — PA pic via Reuters

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DUBLIN, Feb 28 — Hundreds gathered in a violent anti-lockdown protest in Dublin yesterday, with police charging the crowd and arresting 23 demonstrating against ongoing virus curbs in Ireland.

Irish prime minister Micheal Martin condemned the protest on the streets of Dublin, resulting in 23 arrests.

Hundreds had gathered for a planned demonstration against coronavirus curbs at a city centre park but were blocked from the area by police.

Scenes quickly turned violent with fireworks aimed at officers at close-range. Public order police charged the crowd numerous times with batons drawn.

Demonstrators handed out leaflets reading “let Ireland live” and chanted “end the lockdown”.

Amongst the crowd were individuals wearing clothing with the logo of Ireland’s far right National Party.

Police said three officers were injured, one of whom was hospitalised in the protest which lasted around two hours.

Martin said it “showed a complete lack of respect to the people who have made huge sacrifices during this pandemic.”

“There can be no justification for the march or the violence that unfolded,” he added in a statement.

Justice minister Helen McEntee said a special court sitting was being arranged to ensure those arrested would be “prosecuted speedily”.

There have been 4,313 deaths from the coronavirus in Ireland according to latest official figures.

The nation is currently in the midst of its third lockdown, which Martin on Tuesday extended by a further month until April 5.

Ireland navigated two previous waves of Covid-19 with relatively low case and death figures.

However cases surged after restrictions were relaxed in the run-up to Christmas.

In early January the nation had the highest per capita infection rate in the world, according to Oxford University data. — AFP

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