NI fans buoyant before a minority clashed with gardai
GARDAI in full riot gear descended on Dublin 4 last night as Union Jack clad loyalists caused mayhem on the streets.
The shocking scenes have sparked increased security for Ireland's clash with Northern Ireland on May 23.
Thousands of hardline Unionists forced pubs and businesses to close early and had residents running for their homes as they stirred up a tense atmosphere in D4.
Some fans were involved in a stand-off with riot gardai, who managed to contain the group, as they spat anti-Irish chants and yelled obscenities at passers-by.
The scenes, reminiscent of the 1995 mayhem when English fans forced the abandonment of an Ireland-England match, took place before last night's Carling Home Nations Cup match between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
From early, boozed-up soccer fans caused mayhem in the heart of the leafy suburb as they took to the streets for a lengthy, out-of-control drinking session.
Hours before the game, thousands of fans began streaming into Dublin from the North, by car, train and bus.
Labour councillor Kevin Humphreys told the Herald residents he spoke to afterwards were "very upset and distressed" by the experience.
"There was a proportion of the fans who really had an excess of alcohol," said Cllr Humphreys. "It made it very uncomfortable for local residents. There was an air of aggression in some places.
Wrapped in Union Jack and Red Hand of Ulster flags, the supporters spent more than four hours downing alcohol on the streets singing the provocative 'Sash' and 'God Save The Queen', ahead of the game against Scotland.
Locals trying to make their way home from work watched in horror as rowdy louts spiralled out of control, almost sparking full scale riots.
At one point, they were heard chanting: "Stick your f**king tricolour up your h*le," as well as 'God Saves the Queen' and the Dambusters March.
Vanloads of gardai wearing riot gear were called to Bath Avenue after dozens of complaints from concerned residents trapped in their homes.
Pubs along the leafy road were forced to close up early as dozens of gardai patrolled the area in a bid to keep the supporters in check.
Hundreds converged outside Murray's pub, beating Lambeg drums and ripping down election posters. A garda member at the scene told the Herald how they were "monitoring the situation." A spokesman for the Garda said today no arrests were made but the "whole idea is to have a presence there with a view to curtailing (public order) activity".
Mr Humphreys questioned whether another game involving Northern Ireland should be staged at the Aviva until there is an assessment of the security situation.
Terrified mums pushing prams and elderly residents trying to get into their houses were forced to make their way through the melee.
They were seen openly urinating in the gardens of people's homes and downing cans ofbeer and bottles of Buckfast.
Bath Avenue resident Eamon Russell slammed their behaviour as a disgrace and said they had been gathered outside the pub since 4pm.
"This is getting totally out of hand, the gardai are here but they're not arresting anyone.
"This is just the scum of Northern Ireland, it's not the decent supporters. I've been living here 14 years and I've never seen anything like this. It's awful for local residents, trying to walk through gangs of lads hanging around with glass bottles in their hands.."
Earlier in the day, gardai had to be called to another disturbance after fans started heckling passerbys and motorists at approximately 4pm.
"At one point a motorist beeped at them to get out of her way and they started jeering her and surrounded her car," said an onlooker. "It was very intimidating and hard to believe it was happening in broad daylight as people were making their way home from work.