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Extra security across Ireland as anti-lockdown protests planned for St Patrick’s Day

More than 2,500 police officers will be deployed across Ireland to prevent planned anti-lockdown protests to mark St Patrick’s Day.

The massive security operation will see police rolled out across checkpoints and arterial routes across the country on Wednesday.

A number of anti-lockdown protests are being planned through social media, mainly in Dublin City centre, with one protest set to go ahead outside of the building for the national broadcaster RTE.

Much of the police presence will be focused on the capital city, where it is feared anti-lockdown activists will seek to use the public holiday to demonstrate against coronavirus restrictions.

Personnel from the national units, including the dog unit, the mounted unit, air support and public order, will be in place at checkpoints on busy routes into the city and will be patrolling roads in the city.

Police will ask people in the city and also at bus stations and Luas (tram) stops to establish whether their journey is essential and to ensure Covid-19 restrictions are being followed.

Ahead of the public holiday, Deputy Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon said: “As is the case with all protests, An Garda Siochana seeks to engage with protest groups in advance.

“However, some groups choose not to engage with us. It should also be noted that An Garda Siochana has no role in licensing or approving such protests.”

Last month, more than 20 protesters were arrested after an anti-lockdown demonstration in Dublin turned violent.

Protesters aimed missiles and other objects, including a firework-like object, at police, who attempted to obstruct protesters with batons.

Protesters had been attempting to gather in St Stephens Green Park however, the Office of Public Works had closed the gates to the public.

At the time, Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said the protest was “fuelled by conspiracy theories”.

He said: “It was disgraceful to see this protest descend into violent scenes with brave members of An Garda Siochana subjected to intolerable physical and verbal abuse.

“Some of the eye witness footage circulating is extremely disturbing and every public representative should condemn these awful scenes.

“The footage appears to show a lit firework being thrown at members of the gardai by one protester, which is truly shameful.”

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