Covid-19: Police officers injured at Dublin anti-lockdown protest

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Arrests at Dublin Covid-19 restrictions protestImage source, Damian Eagers/PA

Three police officers have been injured after attacks during a demonstration against Covid-19 restrictions in the centre of Dublin.

Hundreds of protesters were prevented from gathering at St Stephen's Green and were moved to Grafton Street by officers using batons.

Police were attacked with fireworks, cans and bollards and Irish broadcaster RTÉ reported one officer was taken to hospital.

There have been 23 arrests.

On Saturday night, gardaí (Irish police) said 20 people had been charged in connection with the protests, with 13 of them appearing before the Criminal Court of Justice before being remanded in custody to appear before Cloverhill District Court at a later date.

Seven of those arrested were charged with offences and released on station bail while "three juveniles were released for consideration of inclusion in the Juvenile Diversion Programme", gardaí said.

Garda (Irish police) Commissioner Drew Harris said police were "lucky" an officer was not seriously injured when a firework was aimed at them.

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said a full investigation into what happened was under way

"It was directed at that individual and so we're fortunate we didn't suffer a serious injury. It's only the individual member's quick thinking saved him," Mr Harris told a media briefing on Saturday evening.

"You don't carry fireworks to a protest for any other purpose than to engage in violent conduct," he added.

The commissioner said a full investigation is under way into what happened at the protest.

Mr Harris said: "Undoubtedly there was an element of planning, we could see that building up during the week between social media and other contexts."

He said a number of groups were "working in concert" with each other, ranging from far right and far left groups, as well as those opposing lockdowns and vaccines.

Taoiseach (prime minister) Micheál Martin condemned the protest and said they "posed an unacceptable risk to both the public and Gardaí (Irish police)".

Paying tribute to police "who moved quickly to make arrests and restore order", Mr Martin added that the large gathering "showed a complete lack of respect to the people who have made huge sacrifices during this pandemic".

Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Leo Varadkar said he was "horrified" by what had happened.

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The Fine Gael leader said there was "no excuse for violence to gardaí or anyone", adding that a "selfish few" were undermining "sacrifices that millions have made in the last 12 months".