Dublin is ready if need be for any loyalist rally, says Garda chief Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said reports of a loyalist rally in Dublin in opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol may be “no more than kite flying”.

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 9:07 am
Updated Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 9:08 am
Loyalists in a recent anti protocol rally on the Shankill Road in Belfast
Loyalists in a recent anti protocol rally on the Shankill Road in Belfast

But Mr Harris stressed that if such a protest did take place then the force would be “prepared for it”.

There have been a number of loyalist rallies in Northern Ireland over recent months linked to the protocol.

The NI Protocol is part of the Brexit deal which is opposed by unionists and loyalists because it creates a trading barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

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Last month it was reported that loyalists were planning to stage a major protest in Dublin.

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson told the Sunday Independent newspaper that it would be a “colourful protest” with marching bands in the city.

He told the paper: “We are planning a mass rally sometime after July 12, in the absence of a significant impact on the protocol.

“If, on a busy Saturday afternoon, 300 loyalists arrived in the heart of Dublin for a peaceful protest, I’d imagine that may cause discomfort.”

But Mr Harris said he had not “seen anything by way of firm plan or intention”.

He added: “We will obviously be in contact with our colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and see what information they have.

“But at the same time, these seem to be tweets and public commentary.

“I’m going to wait until we see something definite before responding to, in effect, what are tweets which I think might just be no more than kite flying at this moment in time.”

He added: “Let’s actually see if there’s something which we need to plan for and prepare for.

“On the other side of this, I would say we are a very capable organisation in terms of keeping the peace and making sure that Dublin is a safe city.

“Whatever happens, we will be prepared for it.”

In 2006 a Love Ulster rally by loyalists through Dublin was abandoned following rioting and clashes between republican protesters and the gardai, leading to a number of arrests and injuries.

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