Monday, February 27, 2006

Dublin burning: the aftermath

Substantial comment and analysis of this story has featured heavily within the Irish blogosphere and beyond over the weekend, with most observers (some of them eyewitnesses with their own pictures to prove it) condemning the disgraceful acts which took place. I won’t repeat what’s already been said, but will merely add my tuppence worth of comment. It’s a sad day for civil liberties and freedom of speech when a peaceful march, regardless of its political motives is prevented from proceeding through the streets of the capital city of a civilised western democracy.

With scenes in Dublin on Saturday more reminiscent of Belfast or Derry, what amazes me is why the Gardai didn’t mount a much stronger security and intelligence operation given the likelihood of trouble. They obviously knew that RSF were planning a counter demonstration, so surely they should also have known that the troublemakers within were intent on stopping the Love Ulster/FAIR march. Instead the Gardai were made to look like the Keystone cops. It will be interesting to see what (if any) level of consultation took place with the PSNI beforehand.

I was also surprised by the lack of coverage in the British media. Both the main Saturday teatime news bulletins on BBC and ITV ignored the Dublin riots completely, choosing instead to focus on the ongoing investigations into the Kent cash depot robbery, the threat of bird flu in France and a pro-animal testing demonstration in Oxford. Not even a single column inch appeared in Monday’s editions of the Times, Guardian or Independent, save for William Fotheringham’s brief mention of the riots in the opening paragraph of his comment on Ireland’s deserved win over Wales in the Six Nations at Lansdowne Road in the Guardian sports section.

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