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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
By Grinne N. Aodha

Garda have ‘all resources necessary’ to keep people safe following Dublin riots

PA Wire

Ireland’s police force has all the resources necessary to keep people in Dublin safe over the weekend, Justice Minister Helen McEntee has vowed.

Ms McEntee also responded to criticism of the violent scenes in the city centre on Thursday night that saw Garda cars, buses and trams set alight and shops looted and damaged, by insisting she would not resign.

The violence in the Irish capital, which involved far-right elements, flared after a knife attack on three schoolchildren and their care assistant outside a school in the north inner city.

Garda are mounting a significant security operation in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the scenes, including securing the use of two water cannons from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

There were some arrests on Friday night following sporadic altercations on O’Connell Street.

By 10pm there was no sign of a repeat of the level of disturbances of the previous evening.

Scores of officers were stationed outside the city’s landmark GPO building and police barriers were erected outside the Irish Parliament building.

Government ministers met on Friday evening where they heard that legislation to facilitate the use of body-worn cameras by police officers will be fast-tracked.

Ms McEntee also told colleagues that gardai are trawling 6,000 hours of CCTV footage as part of their investigation into Thursday’s violence.

Speaking to the media, Ms McEntee said: “What happened yesterday evening following this awful, tragic act was nothing but thuggery.

“This was a group of individuals who used this horrendous event as an opportunity to wreak havoc in our city, to sow division in our city, they will be responded to with force and gardai responded in the most appropriate way.

“They have restored order to this city will continue to do so.”

The minister said she met with the senior Garda officers on Friday evening.

She added: “They have reassured me that every resource necessary to keep people safe in this city over the weekend is in place and will be in place as is needed and for as long as is needed.”

Thirty-four people were arrested following Thursday’s violence with the majority appearing in court on Friday.

Ms McEntee pledged that more arrests would follow and said she had no doubt people would be imprisoned following the unprecedented scenes of violence.

She also rejected calls from Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald for her and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to resign.

Ms McEntee said: “I have full confidence in the Garda Commissioner.

“If Sinn Fein wish to debate law and order, if Sinn Fein wish to debate how we can support the gardai, I have no problem in standing over Fine Gael’s record of law and order, Fine Gael’s record of supporting members of An Garda Siochana.

“I do not believe Sinn Fein can stand over their record.”

The clean-up continued on Dublin’s thoroughfare O’Connell Street throughout Friday, with burned-out buses lifted away by cranes while broken glass and missiles were cleared.

Damage to public infrastructure in Dublin could cost tens of millions of euros to repair, Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar said an estimated 500 people were involved in the disorder and it was important to back the police force amid the riotous scenes.

Some 13 shops were significantly damaged or subjected to looting and 11 Garda cars were damaged.

Some Garda members were injured as 400 officers responded to the unrest.

Mrs McDonald called for resignations saying gardai lost control of the city to a “mob fuelled by hate”.

The Sinn Fein leader said there had been a “an unacceptable, unprecedented collapse in policing” and that a problem leading to Thursday’s riot had been “building for months”.

“I do not say the following lightly, but it must be said. I have no confidence in how Dublin is being policed,” she said.

“The people of this city have the right to be safe on their streets, in their homes and in their communities.

“The gardai have my full support but, given the catastrophic operational failures last night, I have no confidence in the Justice Minister, and no confidence in the Garda Commissioner.”

Asked about the scale of the damage, at a meeting of the British-Irish Council at Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar said: “We don’t have a figure on it yet, but it’s likely to be in the tens of millions, rather than the millions.”

He said there was a discussion with the Garda Commissioner on Thursday on whether to deploy the Irish military as the violence unfolded, but it was deemed that it “wasn’t warranted”.

He added: “Our advice is that it is safe to come into the city. The riots that occurred last night only occurred in a relatively small part of it, thankfully, and were contained within hours.

“While some shops may not be open the vast majority are, and we’re saying to people it is safe to come into the city, and that there will be a heightened Garda presence.”

A five-year-old girl injured in the knife attack remained in a critical condition in hospital on Friday while the female care assistant, in her 30s, was in a serious condition.

The two other children, a five-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl, suffered less serious injuries. That girl remained in hospital on Friday but the boy has been discharged.

Gardai said a man who sustained serious injuries at the scene is a person of interest in their investigation.

Politicians and police have hailed as heroes members of the public who intervened to halt the attacker at the scene on Parnell Square East, including a Brazilian Deliveroo driver.

Mr Varadkar said Dublin had witnessed “two terrible attacks” on Thursday.

“The first was an attack on innocent children, the second an attack on our society and the rule of law,” he said at Dublin Castle.

“Each attack brought shame to our society and disgrace to those involved and incredible pain to those caught up in the violence.

“As Taoiseach, I want to say to a nation that is unsettled and afraid, this is not who we are, this is not where we want to be, and this is not who we will ever be.”

He added: “Those involved brought shame on Dublin, brought shame on Ireland and brought shame on their families and themselves.

“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.

“They did so because they’re filled with hate, they love violence, they love chaos and they love causing pain to others.”

Mr Harris said some officers had been injured, one seriously, as he blamed the disorder on far-right “hooligans”.

The PSNI confirmed two water cannons have been from Northern Ireland to Dublin to assist with policing any further public order situations.

A PSNI statement said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland has dispatched two water cannons in response to a mutual aid request from An Garda Siochana.

“These will be solely operated by An Garda Siochana officers.”

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