DUBLIN—Right-wing rioters turned a usually bustling district of central Dublin into a war zone Thursday night, after unconfirmed speculation that a foreign national was responsible for a horrific stabbing outside a school which hospitalized three children under the age of 7 and a woman in her 30s who protected them.
One of the city’s main shopping thoroughfares, O’Connell Street, which should have been packed with late-night Christmas shoppers, became a scene of terror after anti-immigration protesters torched busses and police cars, smashed windows of shops and looted them and allegedly beat non-white people.
Reuters reported that police would not comment on the nationality of the suspect. A man in his late 40s, he was disarmed and detained by passers-by, has also been taken for treatment for serious self-inflicted injuries. The Irish Times reported that the chief suspect was a naturalized Irish citizen, who has lived in Ireland for 20 years.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris blamed the unrest on a “lunatic, hooligan faction driven by far-right ideology.” Ireland’s Minister for Justice Helen McEntee appealed for calm and said a “thuggish and manipulative element” was using the earlier incident to “wreak havoc.” Speaking to RTE’s Primetime she said described the stabbing incident as “devastating.”
She added, “What we are witnessing this evening is a small group of people who do not represent me or the vast majority of people in this country.”
Irish President Michael D. Higgins condemned “groups with an agenda” who had “used” the “horrific attack” to whip up social division.
One witness, Euan Flanagan, 16, told The Daily Beast that he and his brother were in McDonalds around 6pm before unsuspectingly walking out onto O’Connell Street to catch a bus.
He said: “We saw a massive group [of rioters] walking towards us, so we turned back and started walking the other way. There was a Garda [police] car parked between O’Connell Street and O’Connell Bridge and they went up to that and surrounded it and started whacking it and kicking it. I saw smoke coming from the car, I don’t know if it was a smoke bomb or the car itself that had caught fire. Everyone was shouting and roaring. It was mayhem and pandemonium. As we crossed over O’Connell Bridge [away from the riot] we came across a woman in tears. We asked her if she was alright and she said, ‘Not really, these people are beating up anyone with darker skin.’ That was what she told us.”
The violence broke out after an afternoon of simmering tension caused by a knife attack outside a school which saw three young children, aged 6, 6 and 5, and a woman in her 30s stabbed in the apparently unprovoked attack.
Speculation quickly spread over the nationality of the suspect, and there was further speculation that the suspect’s actions were linked to avenging child victims of Israeli actions against on Palestine. While unfounded, the rumors served to whip up sentiment and attract violent protesters to the site.
Although police initially ruled out a terrorist motive for the incident, which happened shortly after 1:30pm local time, and said it was “standalone attack,” they later said they were keeping an open mind.
Two of the children were understood to have sustained minor injuries, but the five year old, a girl, was still being treated in hospital on Thursday night. The woman is also badly injured and still in hospital. She was employed either by the school or at a creche the children were headed for after leaving the Gaelscoil Coláiste Mhuire on Parnell Square East, the Irish Times said.
A badly hurt five-year-old girl was still being treated Thursday afternoon while another five year old boy and a six year old girl were taken to hospital with less serious injuries, along with the 30 year old woman.
By 11pm local time on Thursday night, the rioting appeared to be coming under control. The police said 400 officers had been “deployed on foot in Dublin City Centre this evening restoring public order.”
Post source: TDB