UCD Student’s Union tonight condemned the violence used against activists and protestors at the housing demonstration on North Frederick Street. The protest which was being organised by the ‘Take Back the City’ group was ended by Gardaí in balaclavas who were alongside men believed to be private security.
Six activists involved in the protest were arrested on public order offenses by Gardaí at the scene. The Gardaí attending the protest appeared to brandish batons while clearing protestors from the street. Three of the five people arrested at the scene were students, and several protestors, including those arrested sought medical attention afterwards.
UCD student and member of the Take back Education Sadhbh McLochlainn who was present last night said “Gardaí came with big dogs and were wearing masks and balaclavas. Any time a person tried to cross the street towards the occupation they were forcibly pushed back. One man was pepper sprayed, a lad got dragged away, beaten. Some of my friends got batons in the legs.”
UCD SU President Barry Murphy condemned the events of last night calling it a disgrace saying that “Like in any societal circumstance where a government’s’ actions are non-existent or insufficient, citizens and often, in particular students, are forced to take action. The peaceful protest by Take Back the City was an example of this. The same government who have been sitting on their hands, waiting for the housing crisis to solve itself, have in last night’s events, allowed the beating and harassment of peaceful protestors to occur. They responded to a situation they have caused with violence.”
Last night the Union of Students in Ireland also condemned any violence that occurred at the protest and stated its support for the right to peaceful protest.
Update: Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said tonight that “The right to protest is a fundamental one in any democracy which must be protected and facilitated. However, that right must be exercised peacefully.
The function of An Garda Síochána is to facilitate them taking place in a peaceful and orderly way, and without undue disruption to the daily lives and businesses of others. It’s important for all of us to support the Gardaí in their efforts to maintain public order.
In relation to the incident last night, I have been reassured that they did so in an effective manner.”
Aaron Bowman – Co-Editor