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Drew Harris says use of hoods by police 'not correct'

Drew Harris Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the "form of dress used" at the protest was not correct

The use of hoods by police officers at a protest in Dublin was "not correct", the head of the Irish police has said.

A number of political parties had raised concern over the use of "balaclavas" by officers attending the removal of protesters from a property.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the use of a "fire retardant hood" by officers at the incident was a matter for the operational commander.

However, he added, the "form of dress used at the event was not correct".

He said "it is policy that if deemed necessary to use the hood then it should be used in tandem with a protective helmet".

Mr Harris added that officers at the protest "showed restraint in the face of physical and verbal abuse from a very small minority" and that one officer suffered racist abuse.

Take Back the City protest

Five people, four men and a women, were arrested for public order offences after being evicted from the property on North Frederick Street on Tuesday.

Two were subsequently charged with public order offences, two were given cautions and, in the case of the final person, a file will be sent to the director of public prosecutions.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Protesters were evicted from this property on North Frederick Street

The property was being occupied by members of the Take Back the City protest group.

The property's owner secured a High Court injunction two weeks ago to order the protesters to leave the building but they refused.

The men who evicted the protesters, including private security, community gardaí (Irish police) and officers from the force's public order unit, had their faces covered.

'Repeated warnings'

Mr Harris, who was sworn in as commissioner earlier in September, said the force deployed "three community policing officers to oversee the safe compliance of a High Court order".

"As the atmosphere at the event grew more tense, a small number of public order officers were deployed to ensure public safety."

He said a directive has since been issued to officers that they must wear a helmet along with a hood.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Protesters blocked the junction of O'Connell Street and Parnell Street in Dublin on Wednesday

Mr Harris added: "Members of An Garda Síochána showed restraint in the face of physical and verbal abuse from a very small minority and I condemn the racist abuse suffered by an individual member of An Garda Síochána working at the event.

"The people who had occupied the building left the building peacefully in accordance with the High Court order."

"Subsequent to this, a small crowd failed to leave the area despite repeated warnings from An Garda Síochána under the Public Order Act and five people were arrested."

Parties, including Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats, the Workers' Party and Solidarity-People Before Profit, had raised concerns over the actions of officers during the protest.

On Wednesday night, up to 1,000 Take Back the City protesters blocked a junction at O'Connell Street in Dublin city centre over the police's actions on Tuesday night.

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