There were chaotic scenes on the first day of Ireland’s Level 5 lockdown as a crowd of 100-200 people gathered in Dublin’s city centre. Chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!” could be heard. Trumpian shouts of “Lock him up!”, seemingly referring to Leo Varadkar, rang out on O’Connell Bridge.
With placards saying “End The Lockdown”, the noisy and incoherent crowd of anti-maskers, tried to make its way down the quays to the convention centre in the IFSC, where one speaker addressed the crowd, talking about “globalists” and “foreigners”. The Government has been using the convention centre to meet, as it provides the space required to physically distance in line with Covid-19 regulations. Something this crowd seems to have a problem with.
An Garda Síochána blocked access to the convention centre. The crowd made a detour and headed for the Grafton Street area. Grafton Street was the scene of a sit-down protest by a similar group of people a number of weeks ago, where social distancing was made impossible for passers-by.
Two weeks prior, another march took place on Kildare Street. That event resulted in two women, who appeared to be countering and trying to engage with the ‘anti-mask’ crowd, being assaulted and verbally abused by a large group of masked men carrying large wooden batons wrapped in the Irish tricolour. One of the women sustained a head injury.
Yesterday, on Grafton Street, the Guards were prepared and had gathered a large number of personnel on the street to try to ensure that there was no repeat of events in early October. When the ‘anti-mask’ ‘anti-lockdown’ group arrived they broke through the Garda cordon. There were violent clashes with Gardaí and 11 arrests were made. 9 people are due in court and 2 were cautioned by Gardaí.
Scenes on Grafton Street in the last few minutes. pic.twitter.com/HwyEkJfIwk
— Mark Malone (@soundmigration) October 22, 2020