A MAJOR disaster plan, involving hospital beds set aside for potentially injured gardaí and prison cells for arrested protesters, has been put in place in anticipation of next weekend's Mayday protests in Dublin.

Gardaí have already been made aware of plans by anarchists and protesters from around Europe to stage major demonstrations as the accession of 10 new states to the EU is marked in Dublin during Ireland's presidency of the EU.

While it is acknowledged that there will be protests on Mayday by various groups opposed to the EU and globalisation at the very least, it has not been known until now that a major disaster plan has been put in place by the government.

Hospital beds have been set aside in Blanchardstown's James Connolly Memorial Hospital for the exclusively for members of the security forces expected to be injured in any demonstrations that may take place. It is believed that provision has also been made to reopen facilities at St Brichin's hospital, the army facility at the Phoenix Park which has been wound down in recent years.

It will also be made possible to keep up to 100 prisoners in custody in Cloverhill and Mountjoy prisons next weekend.

Protest groups based both in Ireland and abroad have promised to disrupt the meeting of EU heads in Farmleigh House on Saturday evening next.

But security sources have suggested that protesters have no chance of getting anywhere near the venue, with thousands of gardaí and soldiers deployed to guard the prime ministers from the current and candidate countries.