The President of USI, Joe O’Connor, has issued the following statement:
USI has read with interest the report of the Garda Ombudsman Commission on the policing of our national demonstration in 2010. We welcome this much delayed report.
Following the publication of this report, it now appears clear that in some cases, our members were targeted and had force used against them, though this was denied at the time by the Gardaí. It is now also clear that the major risk to the safety of our members was a failure in policing and accountability.
The Gardaí therefore have further questions to answer about their conduct on the day of the demonstration and their subsequent failure to co-operate with the proper mechanisms for investigating their conduct.
Without the information we now have to hand, the Union of Students in Ireland took a stance of condemning those protestors who broke away from the main demonstration in 2010, and making their actions the focus of our response.
USI would like to use this opportunity to officially withdraw that prior position. The actions of the Gardaí on the day ran contrary to proper and safe policing. Rather than effectively handling the events as they unfolded, the actions of some Gardaí instead lent to an exacerbation of the situation.
In order to ensure that this apparent misconduct is put behind us and that student confidence in policing of lawful demonstrations by An Garda Síochána can be restored, we have asked for a meeting with the Garda Commissioner at the earliest possible date to discuss our concerns with him.