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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

34 people arrested in Ireland's worst rioting in decades

Riot police officers protect a crime scene after demonstrators broke through the cordon, following a school stabbing that left several children and adults injured, in Dublin on 23 November. REUTERS - CLODAGH KILCOYNE

Police in the Irish capital Dublin have arrested 34 people after suspected far-right protesters attacked police and set fire to vehicles Thursday night following the stabbing of three children earlier in the day.

At least 100 people took to the streets on Thursday evening, some armed with metal bars and covering their faces.

They torched cars and looted shops.

One officer was seriously injured in the violence, the head of the Irish police (Gardai), Commissioner Drew Harris, told reporters on Friday.

Over 400 officers were deployed throughout the city centre to contain the unrest and calm was restored in the city shortly after midnight.

Harris said 34 people were arrested after "huge destruction" by the "riotous mob" with 13 shops significantly damaged or subjected to looting.

“These [riots] are scenes that we have not seen in decades, but what is clear is that people have been radicalised through social media and the internet,’’ Harris told reporters.

Far-right ideology

The violence began after news spread on social media that a 5-year-old girl was receiving emergency medical treatment at a Dublin hospital following a knife attack outside a school in the city earlier in the afternoon.

Social media posts described the attacker as “a foreigner”.

Some protesters carried signs reading "Irish Lives Matter" and waved Irish flags through a neighbourhood home to a large immigrant community.

The chief suspect, reportedly a naturalised Irish citizen in his 50s, is in custody.

Police say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack and that a full investigation is ongoing.

A car and a bus in flames in Dublin on November 23, 2023, as people took to the streets following the stabbings earlier in the day. AFP - PETER MURPHY

Police described the protesters as a “complete lunatic hooligan faction driven by far-right ideology".

'Shame' brought on Ireland

Ireland's prime minister said that protesters who battled police and looted shops were motivated by "hate" and brought "shame on Ireland".

"Those involved brought shame on Dublin, brought shame on Ireland and brought shame on their families and themselves," PM Leo Varadkar said, pledging to modernise laws against hatred.

"We will pass new laws in the coming weeks to enable the Gardai (police) to make better use of the CCTV evidence they collected yesterday," PM Leo Varadkar told reporters on Friday.

"Also we will modernise our laws against incitement to hatred and hatred in general."

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".

Read about France's worst bout of rioting since 2005 here

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