Poor policing nearly caused di...
Soccer

Poor policing nearly caused disaster in 1995 | O'Byrne recalls Lansdowne riot

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

19:29 15 Feb 2020

The 1995 Lansdowne Road riot was almost a "disaster" because of ill-thought-out policing, according to former FAI CEO and then-head of security Bernard O'Byrne. 

O'Byrne joined Saturday's Off The Ball to reflect 25 years on from the day trouble broke out during the Ireland v England friendly match in Dublin.

The riot was instigated by the English neo-Nazi organisation Combat 18, and members of Chelsea Headhunters with twenty people injured during the incident.

Although the British police knew of the plan to cause trouble and informed An Gardaí Síochána, O'Byrne recalled that the FAI were kept in the dark.

It was a night, O'Byrne said, he would never forget:" A lot of the images are scorched in my memory so it's like looking at a photograph for me."

"I will never forget that night. What we did notice very quickly was a lot of people on mobiles so they were obviously communicating with each other.

"The reason they were in the upper stand was on garda advice and the reason they were there was the nearest major exit was actually behind that part so if we needed to get people out or to evacuate they wanted it to be close to a major gate."

That idea, O'Byrne says was "ill-thought-out" and nearly caused a serious disaster. Asked how he managed it on the night, O'Byrne credited the gardaí on the ground.

"Well, I think the simple answer to that was the on the ground gardaí were heroes on the night. The top brass of the garda were total idiots.

"The riot squad was in a hotel down the road having tea and coffee and when they were called to come they arrived at the wrong gate and that delayed their entry into the situation by 10 or 15 minutes which was crucial.

"So, it came to be the responsibility of the gardaí and some professional stewards that we had hired, and for that 10 to 15 minutes, it was hand to hand combat," O'Byrne recalled.

You can watch the full piece with Bernard O'Byrne here.

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An Garda Síochána Bernard O'Byrne Football Association Of Ireland Lansdowne Road

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