Calls for calm amid disgraceful scenes in Dublin after children injured in knife attack

23/11/2023

Calls for calm amid ‘disgraceful scenes’ in Dublin after children injured in knife attack

Violence has broken out in the Irish capital tonight following a stabbing outside a school earlier

Police and politicians have called for calm amid warnings against misinformation as violence broke out in Dublin following a knife attack on a woman and three young children near a school.

Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee labelled the scenes in the city centre “intolerable”, and said a “thuggish and manipulative element must not be allowed to use an appalling tragedy to wreak havoc”.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said a “complete lunatic faction driven by far-right ideology” is behind disorder in the capital.

Violence broke out after three young children and a woman were attacked Parnell Square East in the north of the city centre on Thursday afternoon.

A five-year-old girl is undergoing emergency treatment for her injuries, Irish police have said.

The woman was seriously injured while the two other children, a five-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl, sustained less serious injuries

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

Earlier on Thursday, Garda Superintendent Liam Geraghty said they were keeping an open mind in terms of the investigation but were “satisfied there is no terrorist link”.

However, at an evening press conference Mr Harris was asked about a potential terrorist link, and appeared minded not to rule that out.

“I have never ruled out any possible motive for this attack… all lines of inquiry are open to determine the motive for this attack,” he said.

“Until we’re sure what the motive is then we have to keep an open mind as to why this happened.”

The scene of the incident is close to Irish language-medium primary school Gaelscoil Cholaiste Mhuire.

A Garda public order unit was deployed in the area around Parnell Square, Parnell Street and O’Connell Street as protesters gathered and some became involved in scuffles with officers, while others threw bottles.

People also fired flares and fireworks at the Garda cordon, and the Luas transport system came under attack.

Ms McEntee said: “A thuggish and manipulative element must not be allowed to use an appalling tragedy to wreak havoc.

“I have spoken to local TDs from all sides of the Dail and we are of the same view.

“We will not tolerate a small number using an appalling incident to spread division. I would appeal for calm in the city centre as An Garda Siochana carry out their work – attacks on members of An Garda Siochana must be utterly condemned and will be dealt with severely.

“Most importantly, we must remember the real tragedy of today and allow the investigations take their course.”

Speaking to media at Mountjoy Garda Station on Thursday evening, Mr Harris called for calm and spoke out against the spreading of misinformation.

He confirmed that a number of Garda vehicles have been damaged.

He said some individuals were using a tragic event which is under investigation by the authorities “for their own ends… and a hooligan faction who are only interested in causing damage and mayhem in the city centre and they’re using the opportunity for that as well”.

“I think there’s disgraceful scenes in terms of a major investigation, the maintenance of a scene and the gathering of evidence,” he said.

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

“We are drafting in resources to deal with that and that will be dealt with properly. I’ve given full direction to our resources here in respect of making arrests and bringing offenders to justice.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that we police the streets, and part of that is we ask people to act responsibly and not to listen to the misinformation and rumour that is circulating on social media.

“The facts are being established, but the facts are still not clear on a lot of the rumour and the innuendo is being spread for malevolent purposes.”

Mr Harris cautioned: “The facts have yet to emerge, and will take time to fully emerge.”

He said the motive for the afternoon attack “is not clear to us at this moment in time”.

Earlier, Supt Geraghty said: “Preliminary indications are that a male attacked a number of people on Parnell Square East.

“Five casualties have been taken to hospitals in the Dublin region. These casualties include three young children, an adult female and an adult male.

“One girl, aged five years, has sustained serious injuries and is currently receiving emergency medical treatment in CHI Temple Street.

He added: “The male in his 50s is a person of interest to An Garda Siochana in this investigation and An Garda Siochana is not looking for any other person at this time.

The officer said his understanding is that a knife was used, adding: “It would appear to be a standalone attack, and we need to determine the reasons behind that.”

He added: “My understanding is members of the public did intervene at a very, very early stage and we would applaud those members of the public for getting involved in such a traumatic and potentially dangerous situation for themselves.

“We’re aware that the public are concerned about the activities that have happened today. The message to them is that we believe that this is a standalone incident, not necessarily connected to any wider issues that are ongoing in the country or in the city, and we need to identify the exact reasons for that happening.

“So we’d ask for people not to jump to conclusions and not to make rash judgments on what may have happened.”

Siobhan Kearney said she witnessed what she believes was a man attacking children, describing what she saw as “absolutely bedlam”.

Ms Kearney told RTE she watched people disarm a man who she said had a knife.

“I looked across the road and I see the man and the stabbing motion with a load of children so I flew across the road,” she said.

“The man was after stabbing two children as far as I could make out, and we got the children up to the left with the women that were there, and the teachers I presume.

“People were trying to attack the man so me and an American lady, we formed a ring around the man, and then about three minutes later the ambulance came for the children and then another ambulance and fire officers came for the man on the ground.”

Irish premier Mr Varadkar said: “We are all shocked by the incident which has taken place in Parnell Square.

“A number of people have been injured, some of them children. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to them and their families.

“The facts in this matter are still emerging. The emergency services responded very quickly and were on site within minutes. I thank them for that.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the incident in Dublin city centre had caused “shock and horror”.

Speaking at the scene she said children who witnessed what happened have been traumatised.

She added: “Our heart goes out to the whole school community, to the children, the parents, the teachers.

“I know that the gardai acted very swiftly in this matter, but this is certainly the last thing that any of us expected on a Thursday afternoon where children should come safely from school and be collected by their parents.

“I pray the injured make a full recovery.

“The community is stunned, stunned and horrified.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub



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