herald

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Soccer thugs arrive with their battle plan reveals senior garda

A SENIOR garda has revealed how soccer hooligans engage in a "calculated aggression" when trying to attack rival supporters.

Inspector Tony Gallagher's comments were published as Justice Minister Dermot Ahern condemned rioting by Shamrock Rovers fans.

Mr Gallagher, who oversees the Garda event management team based in Fitzgibbon Street, explained how officers handle crowd trouble.

"The hooligans typically don't dress in the team colours but wear jackets and clothing with a Stone Island emblem on the sleeve or shoulder and sometimes Burberry clothing," he told the Garda Review.

"They are very organised. They arrive at the stadium 15 minutes before kick-off and they arrive en bloc. They try to take over a roadway and run at the side where the away fans are coming in.

"It's a very calculated type of aggression. We are used to it now so we know how to respond," Insp Gallagher said.

His remarks came as Mr Ahern saw first-hand the difficulties caused by soccer mobs.

The minister was among the home supporters at this week's league match between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers in Oriel Park.

Mr Ahern called for the culprits to be identified and banned for life from attending soccer matches.

He said that the events were "an absolute disgrace," adding some people were truly afraid for their own safety during the riot.

However, he praised the work of the gardai who restored order to the grounds quickly.



Drafted

Local gardai were backed up by mounted police and dog units specially drafted into Dundalk in case there was trouble at the match.

Insp Gallagher said one way of dealing with the trouble is to change the kick-off time of matches from the evening time to midday.

It is "something regularly sought by our counterparts in the UK at games where there is the potential for violence, referred to as category-A games".

He added: "This limits the drinking time for fans prior to the game.

"When we look at a category- A game, we have a template on the personnel we employ for it. Where there is a perceived risk involved and if there is some intelligence that there could be some disorder, we have the public order units on standby."

Mr Gallagher added: "We also have a duty of care to our own staff that the policing of the event is adequate for protection of our own members."

At a match between Bohemians and Glentoran, gardai had intelligence some Bohs fans were planning to cause disruption.

"This turned out to be the situation. Thirty-five Bohemians hooligans turned up, ran towards the away side, and had to be heavily policed and dispersed from the area.

"They had taken over a roadway and were chanting sectarian remarks, so we surrounded them, directed them out of the area and they weren't permitted entry to the match."

hnews@herald.ie

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