Still in shock. The Irish authorities reinforced their security measures on Friday, the day after riots provoked by the far right, bringing “shame to Ireland” according to the Prime Minister. Many law enforcement officers were present in the city center in the evening, according to an AFP journalist. For several hours Thursday evening, nearly 500 rioters burned vehicles, looted and vandalized businesses and confronted the police, in an area of central Dublin where many immigrants live.
This violence broke out after a man armed with a knife attacked several people in the early afternoon near a school in Dublin, injured four people, a teacher and three children. A five-year-old girl was “in critical condition” Friday. The teacher is in “serious condition”, according to the police.
VIDEO. “Scenes we haven’t seen for decades”: in Dublin, astonishment after an evening of violence
Also injured, the attacker was subdued and arrested on the spot, thanks in particular to the intervention of a Brazilian delivery man and a 17-year-old Frenchman. According to the Irish Times daily, this is a man who has been naturalized and has lived in Ireland for 20 years. The police blamed these clashes on the far right, citing rumors spread on social networks about the attacker’s origins, in a context of increasing anti-immigration discourse.
“The center of Dublin is open normally” wanted to reure the Irish police on X, with a “reinforced law enforcement plan”. The head of the Irish police Drew Harris, who deplored “an extraordinary explosion of violence” Thursday evening and scenes not seen “for decades”, however indicated that he feared further violence, and two water cannons were sent from Ireland from the North in the afternoon.
Millions of euros in damage
Irish police announced they had arrested 34 people. A curfew was imposed on some, according to Irish media. Concerning the attacker, the police simply said that he was around fifty years old, and ruled out at this stage a terrorist motive, without specifying his motivations. The rioters “claim to defend Irish nationals”, but “they shame Dublin, shame Ireland”, lambasted the Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, adding later that the damage caused to public infrastructure would cost “tens of millions of euros “.
The leader of the main opposition party Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald, on Friday called for the resignation of the Irish police chief, Drew Harris, and of Justice Minister Helen McEntee who refused during a conference press where she provided support to the police. On O’Connell Street, the center of the violence, life has returned to normal despite the damage still visible, including businesses with broken windows. The carces of the burned vehicles were removed, AFP noted.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes… it was more than vandalism and a lot of anger,” testified Robbie Hammond, a 28-year-old sports coach.
“Ireland belongs to the Irish”
In the hours following the attack on Thursday, several messages relayed on X by anti-immigration accounts circulated the rumor that the attacker was an “illegal immigrant”. An Irish anti-establishment site, “Gript”, had indicated on Thursday before the riots that the attacker would be “an Algerian national”. The statement was echoed on
Fueled by a housing crisis, an anti-immigration discourse has developed in recent years in Ireland. In recent months, several demonstrations have taken place against accommodation projects for asylum seekers. “The majority of Irish people welcome immigrants (…) but over the past two or three years, a far-right movement which uses social networks to spread disinformation and fear about them has emerged,” he told AFP. Anne Holohan, ociate professor at Trinity College Dublin.
The anti-racism ociation INAR castigated “manipulators and opportunists” who “take advantage of this difficult period” to “sow chaos”. According to official figures, asylum applications have increased more than fivefold in 2022 compared to 2021 in Ireland.