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Home / News / Gardaí at Wicklow site overnight after protest, arrests

Gardaí at Wicklow site overnight after protest, arrests

Gardaí maintained a presence at a site earmarked to accommodate international protection applicants in Co Wicklow last night, following a protest, but say there were no further incidents.

Six people arrested – four men, one woman and a juvenile – are still being detained.

Three garda cars were damaged at the protest at the site in Netownmountkennedy.

Gardaí say they came under attack and the Public Order Unit deployed shields and incapacitant spray, but locals have accused gardaí of using unnecessary force and aggressive tactics.

For the past six weeks protests have been held at the site known as Trudder House or River Lodge, which has been earmarked to accommodate international protection applicants.

Gardaí claim they came under attack after workers were brought onto the site.

In a statement, gardaí said “a number of trespassers were also identified on and removed from the site”.

It added that uniform gardaí were “subject of both verbal and physical abuse throughout the day, which escalated into rocks and other missiles being thrown this evening”.

Fires were lit at the scene, the statement said, and gardaí also recovered an axe.

Gardaí said that as the situation intensified, they used force to defend themselves “as part of an escalated response to the situation”.

They added that the Public Order Unit was deployed.

“The use of force included the use of Incapacitant spray and deployment of Public Order Gardaí in Public Order helmets and shields,” gardaí said.

Three garda cars were damaged during the incident, the statement said, “including broken windows and slashed tyres”.

Gardaí have said that it was not aware of anyone being injured in the incident.

In the statement, An Garda Síochána said that it “respects the right for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights; this right does not extend to breaches of Criminal Law, the interference with the rights of other citizens to carry out their daily activities, or to attack members of An Garda Síochána.

“Any garda activity in relation to evolving events involves a graduated policing response taking into account relevant legislation and public safety, with enforcement as a last resort.”

They said they are also aware of misinformation and disinformation being spread about the incident.

But local protesters also released a statement accusing gardaí of using unnecessary force and intimidating and aggressive tactics against what they say was a legitimate and peaceful protest.

Videos online appear to show material being burned at the entrance to the site.

Earlier, videos also appeared to show some scuffles between gardaí and protesters.

There have been ongoing protests in the area since construction work began last month on the former HSE site, where the Department of Integration said it was considering locating 20 eight-person tents for international protection applicants.

Earlier this month, a small fire was lit on the site which gardaí confirmed they were investigating.

Locals say they object to the site being used to accommodate asylum seekers, saying the site is unsuitable and that the resources of the village are already overstretched.

Additional reporting: Paul Reynolds

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