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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rebecca Black

‘Thuggery’ on streets of Dublin will not be tolerated – Irish Justice Minister

PA Archive

Further “thuggery” on the streets of Dublin “will not be tolerated”, Ireland’s Justice Minister has warned.

There has been a heavy gardai presence in the Irish capital across the weekend following rioting on Thursday night.

The chaotic scenes – which involved far-right elements – saw Garda cars, buses and trams set alight, and shops looted and damaged after a knife attack on three children and their care assistant outside a school in the north inner city.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said 48 arrests have been made in the city since Thursday and a high-visibility policing plan is in place throughout the weekend, including the deployment of four public order units.

The Garda dog unit and the mounted unit are also being deployed, and two water cannon have been described as available for use if required.

The water cannon are on loan from the Police Service of Northern Ireland following a request for mutual aid from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

They will solely be operated by members of An Garda Siochana if deployed.

Mr Harris visited officers at the Irish parliament on Saturday afternoon as Leinster House was protected by a ring of steel fencing.

There is a strong Garda presence at the parliament, as well as on O’Connell Street – the main Dublin thoroughfare where the worst of the rioting was seen on Thursday.

Ms McEntee said her thoughts remain with the young children and their creche worker who were assaulted on Thursday afternoon.

A five-year-old girl injured in the knife attack outside a school remained in a critical condition in hospital on Saturday 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.

The six-year-old was discharged on Saturday, and the boy was discharged on Friday.

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

Ms McEntee said: “The children, their carer, their families, friends and those who are caring for them must remain at the forefront of our thoughts this weekend.”

She said she was briefed on Saturday afternoon by Mr Harris and senior gardai on the ongoing operations to maintain order in Dublin city centre.

“I thanked gardai and Garda staff for their work in recent days in restoring order in the capital and told them the Government fully supports them in that work,” the minister said.

Ms McEntee said she has provided additional overtime in the capital, and is “determined to maintain the momentum we are now building in Garda recruitment to increase the number of Garda members on the ground”.

She said she has allocated an additional 4.4 million euros (£3.8 million) for the purchase of 95 extra Garda cars and vans by the end of this year, including 17 high-visibility public order Garda vans.

The minister added: “I want to again be clear that the thuggery we saw on Thursday will not be tolerated and, as Minister for Justice, An Garda Siochana, including Commissioner Harris, have my full support to maintain order.

“Those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Ms McEntee and Mr Harris have faced criticism from Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald, who said she does not have confidence in them.

On Friday she said there had been an “unacceptable failure to keep people safe”, and called for Ms McEntee and Mr Harris to resign.

However speaking in Cork on Saturday, Tanaiste Micheal Martin hit back, saying this was “not a time to be undermining gardai or its leadership because the State essentially came under attack last Thursday evening”.

“All of this is essentially an attack on the State and an attack on families, on workers and on our communities and society and we cannot tolerate that,” he said, adding that the Government’s focus now is on dealing with threats to public order because it has an obligation to protect citizens across the country.

Garda officers are trawling 6,000 hours of CCTV footage from Thursday night with a view to making more arrests of those involved in the rioting.

Friday night saw quieter scenes on O’Connell Street amid a heavy gardai presence.

A Garda spokesperson said a small number of people were arrested for public order incidents.

On Saturday cafes on O’Connell Street had erected signs indicating they planned to close at 7pm.

A pro-Palestine protest that had been due to take place in the area on Saturday was postponed following the rioting on Thursday.

A small protest centred on immigration issues took place peacefully on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile more than half a million euros (£434,469) has been raised for the victims of the stabbing attack, and those who intervened.

A number of GoFundMe pages have been set up, with the highest total for an effort to assist Deliveroo driver Caio Benicio who intervened in the attack to stop the man armed with a knife.

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