Crowd control at public events in Ireland


Every year many concerts, festivals, public meetings and major events take place in Ireland. Article 40 of Bunreacht na hEireann (the Irish Constitution) guarantees your right to assemble or meet peacefully and without weapons. This right is limited by legislation to protect public order and morality. The law as discussed below prevents or controls meetings that are calculated or designed to cause a riot or breach of the peace. There is more information about these public order offences here.

The purpose of crowd control at public events is to maintain public peace and order and ensure the safety of all who are gathered there. There are laws in place designed to give the Gardai (Irish police force) clear and comprehensive legal powers to deal with crowd control.

Part III of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 is the main law on this area and is based on the recommendations of the Hamilton Committee on Public Safety and Crowd Control. That committee was established in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster in the UK in 1989.


Control of access to certain events

Section 21 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 empowers the Gardai to place barriers on roads up to one mile (1.6 km) from where a particular event is taking place. The decision on the placing of barriers must be made by a Garda who is of Superintendent rank or higher. When the barriers are in place the Gardai are allowed to prohibit people from crossing or passing the barrier if the person does not have a ticket for the event. The Garda may also seize any alcohol or disposable drinks containers or any offensive article at the barrier before allowing a person to proceed to the event.

Section 21 also allows people to pass the barriers if they are going to their home or place of work. They may also pass the barriers if they are going to any place in the area of the event if it is for a lawful purpose. Anyone who fails to obey the direction given by a Garda at a barrier will be guilty of an offence and is liable to a class D fine.

Surrender and seizure of intoxicating liquor

There are rules in Ireland regarding the serving and sale of alcohol. These rules are set out in the various Intoxicating Liquor Acts. There is more about the law on alcohol in Ireland here.

The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 also gives the Gardai the power to search a person going to an event where a barrier has been erected. These rights are set out in Section 22 of the 1994 Act and allow the Gardai to seize intoxicating liquor or any disposable container or any other article which could be used to cause injury.

This law also allows a Garda to refuse to allow someone to proceed to the event where they refuse to surrender or give up the intoxicating liquor, disposable container or other article concerned. The Gardai may also require that you to leave the area in an orderly and peaceful manner. If you fail to comply with such a request by the Garda without lawful authority or reasonable excuse then you will be guilty of an offence. The fine for this offence is a class D fine.

Page edited: 9 June 2015