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34 arrested as violence erupts in Dublin after school knife attack

Updated: 2023-11-25 08:43
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Members of the Garda Public Order Unit detain a man, following a riot in the aftermath of a school stabbing that left several children and adults injured on O'Connell Street, in Dublin, Ireland November 24, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Irish police arrested 34 people after suspected far-right protesters in central Dublin attacked police, damaged shops and set fire to vehicles on Thursday night.

The worst unrest in Dublin in decades broke out after a 5-year-old girl was seriously injured in a knife attack earlier in the day that also saw a woman and two other young children hospitalized.

Irish police said the girl was receiving emergency medical treatment in a Dublin hospital following the attack outside a school. Soon after that announcement, at least 100 people took to the streets, some armed with metal bars and covering their faces.

"These (riots) 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," Ireland's top police officer, Drew Harris, told reporters on Friday.

Police said over 400 officers, including many in riot gear, had been deployed in Dublin's city center to contain the unrest, which they said was "caused by a small group of thugs". A police cordon was also set up around the Irish Parliament building, Leinster House, and officers from the Mounted Support Unit were in nearby Grafton Street.

Rumors on social media about the nationality of the assailant, who police only described as a man in his 50s, helped fuel unrest following the attack. Some protesters carried signs reading "Irish Lives Matter" and waved Irish flags through a neighborhood home to a large immigrant community.

There were clashes with riot police as some demonstrators let off flares and fireworks, while others grabbed chairs and stools outside bars and restaurants.

A number of police vehicles and a tram were damaged during the disorder, while a bus and car were also set on fire on the city's O'Connell Bridge.

Shop windows were routinely smashed and a Foot Locker store was looted. All public transport in the city — trams and buses — was suspended and many firms have urged their employees to work from home on Friday.

"We have a complete lunatic hooligan faction driven by far-right ideology, and also then this disruptive tendency engaged in serious violence," Harris said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement that "we are all shocked by the incident".

Police and politicians called for calm and warned against misinformation over the attack earlier in the day.

"The scenes we are witnessing this evening in our city center cannot and will not be tolerated," Justice Minister Helen McEntee said, promising to take action. "A thuggish and manipulative element must not be allowed to use an appalling tragedy to wreak havoc."

Ireland has been facing a chronic housing crisis, with the government estimating that there is a deficit of hundreds of thousands of homes for the general population.

Widespread dissatisfaction has fed into a backlash against asylum-seekers and refugees, and far-right figures have promoted anti-immigration sentiment at rallies and on social media with claims that "Ireland is full".

Agencies Via Xinhua

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