Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Louise Burne

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris denies Gardaí taking a 'softly softly approach' to far right protests

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has denied that the Gardaí are taking a “softly softly approach” to far right protestors as he insisted the force will not “fall into their trap”.

He also denied that Gardaí are allowing protestors to board buses carrying asylum seekers and that if that is happening it is “not through a lack of action”.

Despite growing protests from far-right groups in recent months, Commissioner Harris said that the groups were not increasing in numbers.

READ MORE: Leo Varadkar says 'misinformation' on asylum seeker accommodation must be tackled

There have been several protests at sites accommodating asylum seekers across the country in recent weeks, including a six-day blockade at a hotel in Inch, Co Clare.

This weekend, videos circulated online of groups attempting to stop a bus carrying asylum seekers into a location in Santry, north Dublin.

This has led to criticism of the way that the Gardaí are handling protests, with Green Party TD Patrick Costello calling for Mr Harris to appear in front of the Oireachtas Justice Committee to explain how these events are being policed.

Speaking at the opening of a new Dublin Metropolitan Region Office at Dublin Castle, the Commissioner said that the Gardaí are taking a “long-term view” on the far right.

He explained: “There’s two bits of their playbook that we can see that they want to achieve. “One, they want to act on local fears, local concerns and, in effect, gather up a crowd. “They’ve been successful on occasion and other occasions, they've been completely refuted.

“The other piece, and it's a classic part of their playbook, is an over-response by the authorities of the State, i.e. An Garda Síochána. We are not going to fall into that trap.

“This is a long-term policing strategy. We are here to work with consent with local communities, to build consent around the housing of individuals who have sought international protection.

“We are here for the long haul and we're taking a long view of these matters.

“Confrontation which in effect plays into their hands is a trap that we're not falling into.”

The Commissioner said that there was “nothing softly, softly” about the gardaí’s approach and that it is “recognising the actual threat that is created by these far right groups.”

Mr Harris said that Gardaí now have a presence in Santry and that they will work with communities to “dispel the fears or myths that are being propagated by individuals who have a malign intent”.

He argued that other policing tactics with protestors have not worked and that Gardaí will attempt to “resolve matters with recourse but prosecution and enforcement is an option”.

When asked by the Irish Mirror why protestors were allegedly allowed to board buses carrying international protection seekers in Clare last week, Mr Harris said that Gardaí were “now allowing protestors on buses”.

He added: “They may be getting on the buses, but it's not it is not through any lack of action on our part.

“I'm not sure where that has happened and what circumstances have happened. If any Gardaí were present, we would obviously not allow any acts of intimidation.”

The Commissioner also said that while there has been a growth in the far right across Europe, “there hasn’t been a growth in Ireland”.

Justice Minister Simon Harris, meanwhile, said that scenes seen over the weekend in Santry were “abhorrent” as he accused groups of “hijacking” the Irish flag.


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.