Anti-immigrant protesters who rampaged through central Dublin setting fire to vehicles and looting stores after three young children were stabbed were condemned by Ireland’s prime minister Friday.
Ireland‘s capital had endured two attacks on Thursday, Leo Varadkar said, one on innocent children, the other on “our society and the rule of law.”
“These criminals did not do what they did because they love Ireland, they did not do what they did because they wanted to protect Irish people, they did not do it out of any sense of patriotism, however warped,” Varadkar told a news conference. “They did so because they’re filled with hate, they love violence, they love chaos, and they love causing pain to others.”
Police blamed far-right agitators for starting the violence on Thursday, which began after three children and a number of people were attacked on Dublin’s Parnell Square.
A five-year-old girl was receiving emergency treatment after sustaining serious injuries in the stabbing, police said in a statement Thursday. A five-year-old boy and six-year-old girl suffered less serious injuries, the statement said, adding that the boy had been discharged from hospital. A teacher’s aide in her 30s was also being treated for serious injuries, police said.
A man in his 50s was arrested, police said, adding that they were not looking for any other suspect. He “remains in a serious condition in a hospital in the Dublin Region,” police said in an update Friday.
Police blamed far-right agitators for starting the violence after a small group of anti-immigrant protesters arrived at the scene of the stabbing. It took officers several hours to regain control after the crowd grew to around 200 to 300 people.
Police Commissioner Drew Harris told a news conference Friday that it was “disgraceful” that their inquiries into the stabbing “were disrupted by the disorder.”
“These are scenes we have not seen in decades,” he said, adding that 11 police vehicles had been destroyed, along with three buses and 13 stores had been damaged and looted. He said that 34 people had been arrested. Investigators would scour thousands of hours of CCTV footage, he added.
“I don’t want to lose focus on the terrible event in terms of the dreadful assault on the schoolchildren and their teacher,” he said.
Harris said that some of the rioters had been radicalized online. Others were known to police, he added.
There are no far-right parties or politicians elected to parliament, but small anti-immigrant protests have grown in the last year. The government is reviewing security around parliament after a recent protest trapped lawmakers inside.
Police would not comment on the nationality of the detained man.
Net migration among Ireland’s 5.3 million population rose to its second highest level since records began in the 12 months to April and around 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived since Russia’s invasion, among the highest per capita in the European Union.
“There is a group of people, thugs, criminals, who are using this appalling attack to sow division,” Justice Minister Helen McEntee told reporters Thursday. “This will not be tolerated,” she added.