Thursday’s chaotic scenes in Dublin – hours after a man was arrested for a knife attack on several young children – were a national disgrace, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has said.
Police have so far arrested 34 people after what the authorities described as a “riotous mob” attacked police, set fire to various police and public transport vehicles, and looted shops in an hours-long bout of social unrest on Thursday, in and around the Irish capital’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street. Much of the violence was in the area where, hours earlier, a man was arrested for a knife attack on several young children and adults outside a primary school.
A five-year-old girl and a woman in her thirties, understood to be the child’s teacher, remain in a critical condition in hospital following the incident in Dublin’s Parnell Square. Injuries sustained by others in the stabbing spree are not believed to be serious.
An Garda Siochana (Irish police) have yet to confirm the identity of the suspect, but local media outlet Gript reported, citing police sources, that the detained man is an Algerian national. Garda commissioner Drew Harris said at a news conference early on Friday that a “complete lunatic faction driven by far-right ideology” was responsible for fomenting the subsequent disorder.
Of those arrested, 32 are appearing before the courts on Friday on various charges including theft and public order offenses. One is charged with possession of a knuckle duster, while two other men are accused of possession of knives.
Those behind the riots “brought shame on Dublin, brought shame on Ireland, and brought shame on their families and themselves,” Varadkar said to reporters on Friday. He also praised the “heroes” who intervened in the knife attack, which media reports say included a Brazilian food delivery driver who was particularly crucial in averting further bloodshed.
Varadkar added that hate crime legislation will be brought before Ireland’s parliament as a result of the riots.
“These are scenes that we have not seen in decades but what is clear is that people have been radicalized through social media and the internet,” Garda commissioner Harris said separately on Friday. It was added that one Garda officer sustained “serious” injuries, while “numerous” others were injured.
Irish justice minister Helen McEntee told the national broadcaster RTE on Friday that the rioters will be identified by CCTV where possible and “dealt with appropriately.” She added: “We have very, very strong legislation – up to 10 years in prison with up to 12 years as well for someone who assaulted a member of An Garda Siochana.”
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