Credit: Gript

WATCH: Clashes dominate headlines, but thousands protest peacefully in Dublin

An estimated 4,000 people attended anti-lockdown rallies in Dublin city centre, which resulted in some clashes between Gardaí and demonstrators.

The protest, which was set to begin at 2:00pm outside St. Stephen’s Green Saturday the 27th, was organised online, but was preempted by Gardaí, who barricaded off the area and several surrounding streets. Protests and outdoor events are currently banned by law under the Level 5 covid-19 restrictions.

As protesters filtered down to the barricade, many expressed anger towards officers for blocking off their intended area of protest, with one attendee saying that “If we were Black Lives Matter you wouldn’t stop us”, getting down on one knee to mimic BLM activists.

“You’re public servants. We’re having our lives ruined by the government and you’re helping them. You should be standing here with us,” said another protester.

Another chastised the police for having their weapons drawn against demonstrators.

One protestor carried a sign saying “I’ll wear a mask, I’ll social distance, but no more lockdown.”

Another read “RTÉ is the propaganda wing of the government – they are lying to us 24/7!”

As the crowd became increasingly agitated, a scuffle broke out between a handful of protesters and Gardaí.

The crowd then broke out in chants of “Freedom! Freedom!” and “Shame on you!” to the Gardaí.

One protestor attempted to push through the police barricade and was shoved back, resulting in a scuffle. At this point plastic water bottles and at least one glass bottle were thrown by an individual from somewhere in the crowd, as well as a plastic divider, and fireworks began to be launched high above the crowd’s heads.

Several protesters put up their hands to indicate that they weren’t aggressive, and one demonstrator stood in front of the line of Gardaí silently holding an Irish Republic banner.

After the police drove forward and divided the crowd into two separated groups, one individual shot two fireworks directly at Gardai, which resulted in part of the crowd being baton charged down Grafton street. One Garda reportedly received injuries.

Meanwhile, a second anti-lockdown march continued up O’Connell street without confrontation.

Following the day’s events, there was a large Garda presence felt throughout the city.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris vowed to “pursue” individuals involved in the day’s events.

“We will be pursuing individuals, particularly those who formed a very difficult core to deal with,” describing the protesters as a “mob”.

23 people have reportedly been arrested so far.

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