The Policing Authority has “totally condemned” the escalation of protests from lawful demonstrations to “violence and intimidation” of vulnerable people, communities and gardaí.
The authority is set to discuss the worsening situation with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and his senior team at a scheduled private meeting next week.
The Irish Examiner reports, the watchdog said it continues to recognise and “applaud” the work of garda members in balancing the rights of people in the community to hold protests with the safeguarding of the rights of those subjected to the protests.
It comes as middle-ranking gardaí have joined frontline members in raising serious concerns about the policing of anti-immigrant protests, saying the garda on the street is “grossly undertrained” to deal with a growing problem.
The blockade of traffic, and instances of protesters checking the identification of people in Clare this week, follows a series of violent incidents in Dublin, which saw asylum seekers intimidated out of a makeshift street camp last Friday night before it was set on fire.
The following day a large mob descended on a nearby 58-tent asylum-seeker camp and damaged and kicked at tents and hurled abuse at the people living in them.
In a statement the authority said it has had “in-depth engagement” with the organisation over the past number of years on the policing of protests, public order policing, community engagement with minority and vulnerable communities, and the welfare and safety of Garda members.
It said this continued at the end of 2022 and so far in 2023 with the increase in anti-immigration protests and associated activity.
The authority said it “continues to recognise” the efforts of An Garda Síochána and its members “in difficult circumstances” to balance the rights of people to protest and the rights of those subject to those protests.
It said: “It also recognises and applauds the work of Garda members in providing an effective policing service to the many protests that take place in any given year, and it has confidence in their capacity to continue to provide this service.”
It added: “However, the escalation from legally compliant protests to violence and intimidation of vulnerable individuals, communities, and members of the Garda Síochána is intolerable and is totally condemned by the Authority.