The vast majority of people in Dublin over the weekend complied with Covid-19 restrictions and it was only "a minority grouping that seemed hell bent on just creating havoc", the President of the Garda Representative Association has claimed.
Fourteen people were arrested for public order offences in Dublin city centre yesterday, with eight more arrested in Cork city, gardaí have said. No injuries to gardaí were reported.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, GRA President Frank Thornton said there were only "a small number of occasions" when gardaí were met with hostility.
He said gardaí acted with great restraint and professionalism and used enforcement as a last resort.
He commended gardaí on duty over the weekend for their professionalism in working under some "extremely difficult situations".
Mr Thornton also said he regarded comments made by Minister Eamon Ryan that he did not want baton charges on the streets as "naive".
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said what occurred at the weekend happened when "a spontaneous group of people got together".
There was a lot of drink taken in public and bins were set on fire and there were attacks on members of the gardaí, assaults on others and criminal damage caused, he added.
"Gardaí have to act to keep the peace and detect crime and that is what we did."
The Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, said the scenes in Dublin over the weekend were caused by a "small number of people causing a lot of trouble".
She said gardaí took appropriate action. They had a policing plan in place right across the country which worked very effectively, and any incidents were dealt with accordingly.
In a statement earlier, gardaí said an extensive high visibility policing operation by uniform gardaí, supported by Public Order Units, was put in place.
Gardaí "on occasions engaged with crowds in Stephen's Green, Temple Bar and South William Street" due to public safety concerns and sporadic public order incidents.
They encountered "significant numbers of groups of youths who were loitering around the city centre, not involved in outdoor dining/socialising".
In total, 14 people were arrested for public order offences in Dublin city centre, including three juveniles who were released and referred to the Juvenile Diversion Programme.
Four people received an Adult Caution, and seven were charged with court proceedings to follow.
Gardaí in Cork said the city centre remained "relatively calm through the evening with no significant incidents reported".
At 11pm, following a public order incident, a decision was taken to disperse people from Kennedy Quay.
In total, eight people were arrested for public order offences across Cork city, three directly related to incidents in Cork city centre.
The incidents occurred ahead of today's reopening of bars, restaurants and cafés for outdoor service as part of the latest lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
People are being urged to continue adhering to the public health guidelines, such as social distancing and avoiding crowds, as measures are eased.
Sinn Féin calls for rethink of city centre
Sinn Féin's spokesperson on enterprise, trade and employment has said "we can't make the centre of our capital city 'a no go area', and if officials in Dublin City Council think that's the case, I think they need to seriously rethink that".
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Louise O'Reilly said she does not agree that providing more toilets and bins encourages non-compliance with the Covid-19 regulations.
She said it was disappointing to see large sections of Dublin city closed off and said events "could and should have been planned for".
Ms O'Reilly said the closures of areas such as Portobello was not the right response and instead more spaces in the capital city should have opened up so people were not corralled in small areas.
There is a need for more pedestrianisation, more parks should be open and more safe spaces made available for people to enjoy the summer outdoors, she added.
All the people who wanted to go into the city centre "have been let down by a failure to plan" and "not everybody has a 60ft back garden" at home, she said.
Additional reporting: Cathy Halloran