A member of Republican Sinn Féin was arrested at an Easter Monday commemoration for refusing to speak to Gardaí in English.
Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais was at the GPO building in Dublin, the headquarters of the 1916 Easter Rising, for a minute’s silence in honour of all patriots who died trying to establish the Republic.
But as he stood outside the GPO, he was harassed by several members of the 26-County police. He then insisted on speaking Irish, the first official language of the 26 County state, as is his right.
After several minutes of a standoff he was arrested. “As he was being put into the van, one of the Gardai shouted at him “I’ll give you fuc*ing Irish!”
Of the ten or so police there, none could speak Irish and Mr Mac Dubhghlais was bundled into a van to “answer questions” in the station. At Mountjoy Station he again insisted on the use of Irish, so the staff had to make a call-out for anyone with any knowledge of the language. After a short delay of 16 to 20 minutes someone was brought to question him.
He was held in the cells for two hours and charged with failing to give name and address, and leaving his place of residence without reasonable excuse.
“It is lamentable that those who work for the State and who daily deal with the public do not have (what supposedly is) the first language of the State, but also that it is still perceived by the police as a rebellious act to place flowers and stand in memory for those who founded the Republic in arms 105 years ago,” RSF said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a high-profile commemoration in Derry on the anniversary of the Easter Rising went ahead after organisers scaled back their plans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The annual event would normally have been led by a parade and colour party, but instead only a simple wreath-laying took place, and those who took part engaged in social distancing.
The Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee had originally planned for a parade from the gates of Derry City Cemetery to the republican plot.
Nevertheless, the PSNI still conducted what they described as an “evidence gathering” operation at the events, while a PSNI helicopter flew overhead.
A demonstration which took place earlier in support of republican political prisoners was also watched and recorded.