Organised on social media app Snapchat, the teenagers arrived in their hundreds as the capital basked in bank holiday sunshine.
As a ‘buzz’ was whipped up on social media, more groups of teenagers arrived from the outskirts of Dublin including Tallaght, Finglas and Blanchardstown.
A senior Garda source told the Irish Mail on Sunday: ‘These gangs operate via Snapchat; that is how they organise themselves and spread the word.’
The MoS understands some of the orchestrators of the chaotic scenes will receive a ‘knock on the door’ from gardaí over the coming days as investigations into last weekend’s trouble continues at pace.
Clashes erupted in the city centre last Friday and Saturday night after gardaí came under fire from glass bottles and other missiles thrown ‘Following the buzz, looking for the action’
by youths, and bins were set alight on South William Street as the crowd cheered. Gardaí deployed ‘soft cap’ public order units with shields, made several arrests and dispersed the gangs involved.
There were more chaotic scenes and arrests last Sunday night as teenage boys and girls jumped on top of taxis and kicked their bonnets. Three gardaí suffered minor injuries and were treated in hospital after glass was thrown at them.
An informed source told how the youths arrived ‘from everywhere’.
They said: ‘There’s a buzz – there’s drink involved. They are playing music and the parks are closed off and they’re following the buzz, looking for where the action is. That’s why at 8.30pm, 9pm, that’s when a lot of them arrived in and the atmosphere changed.
‘There was already a big crowd in town enjoying themselves and then these groups of teens arrive and it took off from there.’
Some of those involved are identifiable to gardaí as ‘known troublemakers’.
‘They arrived in from the suburbs into the inner city and it spreads from there, like a bushfire,’ a source said. ‘The gangs causing trouble along the train lines are out causing trouble the whole time and they were in the city last weekend, too, front and centre.’
There has been a significant increase in anti-social behaviour on Dart services during the pandemic. Gangs on bikes and organised fights have been a feature along the line for a number of months.
Shocking footage was released last month showing a young girl being pushed – by teenage boys on bikes – under a stationary train at Howth Junction. Meanwhile, weapons were seized last weekend following an organised fight on the tracks in Kilbarrack.
Sources revealed how the gangs mobilise using social media to communicate with each other.
‘Snapchat is the app of choice for communicating,’ said one source. ‘That is how they organise themselves. The gangs along the Dart line are known troublemakers and some of them were front and centre of last weekend’s trouble and then there was a social media frenzy with politicians speaking out and it just grew horns from there.
‘We saw young people arrive from all over the city to see what was happening in town and some of those were out to cause trouble.’
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said this week an element of young, drunk people were responsible for causing violent disturbances.
‘What we had last weekend was violence due to large amounts of young people, who had drink taken. Some of them were very drunk, but then there was an element within that group who were intent on trouble, and causing damage and causing violence.’
Commissioner Harris said the weekend’s incidents involved ‘a spontaneous gathering of those young people’.
‘Intent on causing harm through violence’
‘The difference from the weekend before seems to be that there was a group intent on causing harm through violence or criminal damage through the burning of bins,’ he said. He rejected criticism that the Garda response in Dublin may have been over-reactionary.
‘I would say that our use of force and our policing tactics were appropriate to the situation that we faced. In acting how we did, I believe we prevented the situation from deteriorating further.’
Gardaí expressed hope that the ‘excitement’ of gathering in town has simmered down with the reopening of outdoor dining and that revellers can get back to enjoying themselves without the threat of violence in the background.