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Traveller wedding guests attacked . . . by Gardaí
In a bizarre incident, a double Traveller wedding reception was interrupted by Gardaí in the up market Gresham Hotel on Dublin’s O’Connell Street on Saturday night October 30th.
In spite of the efforts of certain people in the mainstream media who try to give life support to anti-Traveller stereotypes, more and more Traveller families are successfully booking hotels as the venues of choice for their wedding celebrations. One such celebration took place in the Gresham last Saturday where a double Traveller wedding was celebrated. Like the double wedding in Youghal in Early October, as with the vast majority of Traveller weddings, this was a well-organised and successful family occasion. For the Youghal wedding, according to media reports, extra Gardaí were deployed as many pub owners in the town locked their doors to everybody but regulars. This turned out to be a waste of Garda time. About 100 local people from Youghal, clearly embarrassed by the behaviour of pub owners and Gardaí, turned out to clap and cheer the two brides into the Walter Raleigh Hotel where the reception took place.
No Garda interest was apparent at the wedding celebrations in the Gresham. About 130 wedding guests enjoyed their evening. Until the Gardaí arrived, that is.
About midnight, an estimated 60 Gardaí in full riot gear, complete with shields, batons, and video cameras, entered the room. They noticed some guests had video cameras recording. They removed some video tapes, but were unable to find them all, so some footage of events has survived.
The guests were completely taken unawares, and were shocked by the aggressive tone of the Gardaí, who demanded that everybody leave and go home. They said that they were there to clear the hotel.
The first wedding guest to call the Gardaí’s behaviour into question, ironically, was a member of the settled community. When told to leave, he apparently remarked that he intended to drink up his pint as he had paid enough for it. Obviously this seditious reaction was too much for the nearest Garda who allegedly pulled him from his chair and with the assistance of another Garda batoned him on the ground. He has defensive bruising the length of one arm. A Traveller woman in her fifties banged the table with her hand in dismay when she saw a young male relative being beaten viciously. A female member of the Garda force allegedly twisted her arm up behind her back. She sustained facial bruising. These two and three others were arrested and held for some time, but none was charged with any offence.
Hotel staff later commented that the night was unremarkable, and a management source expressed some surprise that Gardaí came into the premises at all. The hotel had not called Gardaí, and they could not think of a reason why anybody would have called them.
The following morning, family members went to the Garda station responsible for the raid, to ask what possible reason they had for the action. The reaction of most of the Gardaí who met them was both aggressive and offensive. Only one Garda gave them any satisfaction. He said that something happened on O’Connell Street near the Gresham, and it was assumed that it was connected with the wedding.
It is a huge undertaking to equip and deploy a large force of Gardaí in riot gear. Even if there was some link between the reported incident on the street and the wedding (which the Gardaí admit is not yet established), what possible justification could there be to deploy such a large force and in the manner that they did? Or is this another expensive total cock-up on the part of the Gardaí?