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.[1][2]

Staffing and training[edit]

All gardaí assigned to Public Order Units are standard uniformed members assigned to normal policing duties with specialist Public Order training.[3][4][5] The unit is trained to use riot control tactics to control, disperse, and arrest civilians that are involved in a riot, demonstration, or protest.[6][7]


Gardaí assigned to Public Order Units typically wear black flame-retardant coveralls,[8] 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.[citation needed]

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 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.[citation needed] In September 2018 the Garda Commissioner was obliged to issue a directive confirming that the Public Order Unit's flame retardant hoods were intended to be worn only when a helmet was also worn - when it was queried why some unit members had worn hoods during a public order policing incident in Dublin.[9][10]


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 pepper spray and batons. Members of the unit typically wear body armour, riot helmets, and carry riot shields. Full-length riot shields are also used during potentially violent confrontations where there is large hostile crowds, or the risk of thrown or flammable projectiles.[11]

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.[12] 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]


The Public Order Unit does not operate any specialist armoured vehicles, instead relying on a fleet of refitted commercial vans.[11][13] These Ford Transit 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[14] This vehicle is used for weekend public order patrols.[citation needed]


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, St. Patrick's Day or Halloween.[12] 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 include the days preceding high-tension international football games,[15][7] or during the 2016 build-up to the 1916 Centenary celebrations.[16]


Two full serials patrol Dublin city center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, providing support to regular patrol Gardaí in situations such as pub brawls, disorderly crowds and excessively violent individuals.[citation needed] 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.[1] 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 related activity.[17]

Notable operations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "'Riot squad' now permanently patrolling north inner city". Independent News & Media. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Consequence of a broken market - Is this the masked face of policing?". Irish Exmainer. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  3. ^ "The Public Order Unit's protective hoods are not fashion accessories, but safety requirements in certain circumstances". The Journal. 14 September 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  4. ^ "O'Donnell Park a 'battle zone' as Gardai contain 'riot'". Donegal News. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Report No. 2 Review of Garda Síochána Practices and Procedures for Barricade Incidents" (PDF). Garda Síochána Inspectorate. February 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  6. ^ "1,000 gardai to get riot-control training". Independent News & Media. 15 June 2003. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Shields, batons and peaceful crowd control". Irish Times. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Fiery training for Garda unit". Independent News & Media. 13 May 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Comment from Commissioner Drew Harris on Policing of Protest at North Frederick Street, Dublin on the 13/9/18". Garda Síochána. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Use of 'hoods' at housing protest 'not correct' – Garda Commissioner". Irish Times. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Gardai fear they won't be able to properly police Pope's visit this year". The Journal. 29 March 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018. The vans which are used [by the public order unit] are commercial goods vehicles which have been refitted for use by gardai
  12. ^ a b "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.
  13. ^ "Gardai do not have enough resources to properly deal with potential protests against Pope Francis or US President Donald Trump, AGSI conference hears". Irish Mirror. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Garda Fiat Ducato Public Order Unit". Flickr. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Riot gardai out in force for 'early' English fans". 6 June 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  16. ^ "More than 100 gardaí drafted into 'riot squad' to cope with 1916 centenary events". NewsTalk. 2 January 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Halloween 2018: Dublin Fire Brigade get 900-plus calls, including cars being driven onto bonfires". Independent News & Media. 31 October 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  18. ^ No3 - IRL v ENG 1995. 20 Moments That shook Irish Sport. RTÉ. 2007 [Broadcast 28 October 2007] – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "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
  20. ^ "Travellers' organisation condemns riot". Irish Times. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  21. ^ "Garda tells court Jobstown protest was 'like a rugby maul'". The Journal. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  22. ^ "Video footage of Jobstown protest shown in court". RTÉ. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.