Slouching Towards Bantry

A journey is a hallucination. -- Flann O'Brien

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Football Hooligans

After immediately blaming Sinn Fein party members for instigating the riot on O'Connell Street Saturday, the Irish Times, has changed its tune, and now says that the violence may have been sparked by "footfall hooligans."

Irish Times, Feb. 28:

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell will brief the Cabinet today on a preliminary Garda report into Saturday's riot in Dublin, ahead of a special Dáil debate on the violence this evening.

The report, which was submitted to the Minister last night by the Garda Commissioner, outlines in considerable detail the Garda planning in the run-up to the Love Ulster parade. It also describes in detail the counter-demonstration, which erupted into violence on Saturday afternoon and led to the loyalist march being abandoned.

The Garda report on the events outlines the intelligence reports from Special Branch detectives that there was no indication of any planned violence by republican dissidents at the counter-protest. ...

... Gardaí have also begun gathering thousands of images of rioters on O'Connell Street on Saturday and will distribute them among intelligence officers with a view to arresting and prosecuting those involved.

Mr McDowell will give a statement to the Dáil about Saturday's events and will refer in detail to the report during his speech as part of a 2 ½-hour special debate. The report provides limited information on who is suspected of being responsible for the violence and is believed to state that the investigations are at a very preliminary stage.

The Irish Times has learned that one line of inquiry being pursued by gardaí is whether football hooligans may have played a significant part in the trouble.

Many Dublin-based hooligans who support Celtic Football Club congregated in a pub in the O'Connell Street area popular with Celtic fans, which broadcasts all Celtic fixtures. As the disturbances broke out, a large group was seen coming from the pub dressed in Celtic jerseys. There have been a small number of violent incidents involving Irish football supporters in the last 12 months. ...

* The Garda is the Irish national police force. Its Special Branch is akin to the FBI, though cynical Irishmen scoff at the suggestion.

* Ulsteris the northern province of Ireland of which six of its counties continue to be under the control of the United Kingdom.

* The Dail is the lower house of Irish parliament. Its members, teachta Dalas or TDs are popularly elected and have more power than their counterparts in the upper chamber.

* Gaelic football is a traditional Irish sport supported by the Gaelic Athletic Association, an organization formed in the late 19th Century to preserve Irish cultural identity through the creation of leagues dedicated to hurling and football. Fans of the sport tend to congregate in pubs and cheer for their respective teams with the utmost courtesy and decorum, according to one knowledgable but less-than-objective source.


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