Garda Public Order Unit

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The Public Order Unit on O'Connell Street during the 2006 Dublin Riots.

The Garda Public Order Unit – commonly known as the Garda Riot Squad – is a unit of the Garda Síochána, Ireland's police force, that deals with public disorder, including riots and protests.


All gardaí assigned to Public Order Units are standard uniformed members assigned to normal policing duties with specialist Public Order training.


Gardaí assigned to Public Order Units typically wear black flame-retardant coveralls, standard issue stab-resistant vests and navy baseball caps with "GARDA" on both the front and back, and "PUBLIC ORDER" along the sides in yellow.

Where there is a heightened risk of violence or attack with burning projectiles, such as Molotov cocktails, stab vests are worn under the coveralls and navy blue riot protection helmets with face shields and protective gloves are worn.

For protection in extremely violent situations, an additional layer of flame-retardant body armor designed for public order use, complete with shoulder pads may be worn along with shin and forearm protectors.


For standard duties, all equipment carried by regular gardaí is carried, including a collapsible baton, pepper spray and semi-rigid handcuffs along with a straight-baton, the main weapon Public Order Unit gardaí. Full-length polycarbonate riot shields are also used during violent confrontations where there is large hostile crowds, or the risk of thrown or flammable projectiles.


The Public Order Unit does not operate any specialist armoured vehicles, instead relying on a fleet of Ford Transit vans. These vehicles typically are longer wheelbase versions of the standard Transit van used by gardaí for patrol and lacking a prisoner cage, with Public Order Unit markings.

Formerly, Transit vans were equipped with a raisable and removable windscreen protection cage and removable cages fitted over other windows, however vehicles ordered in 2015 to replace the severely aged 2007 fleet lack these features leaving them open to damage from projectiles.

The DMR South Central Division Public Order Unit, operating from Pearse Street Garda Station, operate a Fiat Ducato van for patrol and public order incidents. This vehicle is used for weekend public order patrols and is more spacious and comfortable than the previous short wheelbase Ford Transit which had exceeded in service life long prior to replacement.


Typically the unit is only called up for riot situations or pre-planned situations such as major sporting events, protests or large-scale public events such as concerts or St. Patrick's Day. In some other cases the Public Order unit has been deployed on more frequent or recurring basis during times of increased risk of disturbances. Examples includ the days preceding high-tension international football games[1], or during the 2016 build-up to the 1916 Centenary celebrations.


Two full serials patrol the Dublin city center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 7pm to 5am, providing support to regular patrol Gardaí in situations such as pub brawls, disorderly crowds and excessively violent individuals. One vehicle operates from Pearse Street Garda station on the south side of the River Liffey and one from the Bridewell Garda station, the latter being deployed in response to a violent attack on two uniformed gardaí in the area.[2] Similar resources are deployed across Dublin on Halloween due to a spike in anti-social behaviour, illegal bonfires, attacks against Gardaí and the Dublin Fire Brigade and other criminal activity.


The unit is trained to use riot control tactics to control, disperse, and arrest civilians that are involved in a riot, demonstration, or protest. This may[original research?] involve the use of force and intimidation to subdue those involved.[citation needed]


As with ordinary uniformed members of the Garda Síochána, the Public Order Unit do not routinely carry firearms, relying instead on conventional, non-lethal weapons such as batons. Members of the unit typically wear body armour, riot helmets, and carry riot shields. In 2016 it was reported that riot gear orders had included contracts for 26-inch batons, riot gloves and boots, and protective flame-retardant clothing.[3] If a situation escalates whereby an armed response is required, the Garda Regional Support Unit (RSU) or Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU) will be called in to assist.[citation needed]

Notable operations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Riot gardai out in force for 'early' English fans". 6 June 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "'Riot squad' now permanently patrolling north inner city". Independent News & Media. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Gardai spent more than €80k on riot gear last year as public protests escalated and General Election loomed". Irish Mirror. 9 May 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  4. ^ No3 - IRL v ENG 1995. 20 Moments That shook Irish Sport. RTÉ. 2007 [Broadcast 28 October 2007] – via YouTube. 
  5. ^ "Gardai train in secret for riots". Independent News & Media. 16 May 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2017. The Public Order Unit was last seen in full operational mode in the centre of Dublin during the 2006 O'Connell Street riots, in which a number of officers were injured 
  6. ^ "Travellers' organisation condemns riot". Irish Times. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Garda tells court Jobstown protest was 'like a rugby maul'". The Journal. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "Video footage of Jobstown protest shown in court". RTÉ. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.