Irish police blame 'lunatic far-right faction' for Dublin riots after three children and woman stabbed

24 November 2023, 08:05 | Updated: 24 November 2023, 09:27

Rioting broke out in Dublin after an attacker stabbed three children
Rioting broke out in Dublin after an attacker stabbed three children. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Unprecedented scenes of rioting broke out in Dublin after a knifeman stabbed children, with police blaming a 'lunatic faction driven by far-right ideology' for the disorder.

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Three children and a creche worker were stabbed outside a nursery in the city yesterday. A girl, 5, is critically injured.

The stabbings saw unprecedented riots break out across Dublin.

Police cars were set on fire, shops were looted and burned and fighting broke out in the streets after the stabbings. Police have blamed a ‘lunatic hooligan faction’ for the violent scenes, fuelled by speculation about the nationality of the attacker.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said this morning that thirty-four people had been arrested following “huge destruction by a riotous mob” in Dublin on Thursday night.

He said there was an "element of radicalisation" in the riots in Dublin on Thursday and that significant numbers of rioters attempted to breach the cordon of the crime scene.

Read more: Buses and police car set on fire in 'far-right' riot erupts Dublin after 3 children among 5 hurt in knife attack

He added: "We're going to have to have a fundamental review of our public order tactics, given the amount of violence".

He also said there would be "significant organisation and mobilisation" to prevent any further violence in the city.

"We cannot allow the city to be given over to the thugs, the looters and the arsonists."

Meanwhile, a hero Deliveroo driver has told how he tackled the knifeman.

Delivery biker Caio Benicio, 43, has been hailed a hero for after battering the attacker to the ground using his helmet.

Rioters clash with police on the streets of Dublin
Rioters clash with police on the streets of Dublin. Picture: Alamy

Irish broadcaster RTÉ reported that the assailant, although not from Ireland, has been living there for several years and holds Irish citizenship. 

The Irish Independent said one line of enquiry detectives are probing is the man was 'suffering a psychotic episode'. 

Hero delivery driver Mr Benicio told The Journal: “I didn't even make a decision, it was pure instinct, and it was all over in seconds. He fell to the ground, I didn't see where knife went, and other people stepped in.

An Garda Siochana at the scene in Dublin city centre after five people were injured in an attack
An Garda Siochana at the scene in Dublin city centre after five people were injured in an attack. Picture: Alamy

“I am praying,” he said, “it's all I am thinking of. I saw her in the ambulance, she looked so vulnerable. I had to go with gardai then. I am waiting for news about her. I am hoping.”

Mr Benicio said the riots last night made him sad due to the anti-immigrant sentiments.

“It looks like they hate immigrants. Well I am an immigrant, and I did what I could to try and save that little girl,” he said.

MMA fighter Conor McGregor offered Mr Benicio food for life at his restaurant.

A bus and car on fire on O'Connell Street in Dublin city centre
A bus and car on fire on O'Connell Street in Dublin city centre. Picture: Alamy

Despite the support for Mr Benicio, the rioting that followed the stabbings rocked the Irish capital.

Responding to the attack and the riots, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “This afternoon innocent young children were brutally attacked with their carer and I want to be very clear the person responsible will be held accountable and brought to justice.

“I also want to be very clear there's a group of people, thugs, criminals, who are using this appalling attack to sow division and wreak havoc in our city centre. I've spoken with the Garda Commissioner and every force possible is being used by the gardaí to restore order to this city.

The scene on Parnell Street in Dublin city centre after violent scenes unfolded following an attack on Parnell Square East where five people were stabbed
The scene on Parnell Street in Dublin city centre after violent scenes unfolded following an attack on Parnell Square East where five people were stabbed. Picture: Alamy

“There will be arrests, people will be put in prison and order will be restored in this city.

“This will not be tolerated.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris blamed a "complete lunatic faction driven by far-right ideology" for the disorder.

The trouble came after shocking scenes around lunchtime on Thursday when three children and a woman who was caring for them were stabbed close to Irish language medium primary school Gaelscoil Cholaiste Mhuire.

A bus was set alight as rioting broke out in Dublin
A bus was set alight as rioting broke out in Dublin. Picture: Alamy

A five-year-old girl underwent emergency treatment for serious injuries.

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

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

Initially, gardai said they were "satisfied there is no terrorist link" to the stabbings but at an evening press conference, Mr Harris stopped short of definitively ruling out a terrorist motive.

"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.

More than 400 gardai were involved in efforts to quell the subsequent evening of disorder in nearby streets.

Garda Chief Superintendent Patrick McMenamin said some members of the force had been attacked and assaulted.

He said no serious injuries had been reported by gardai or members of the public.

Mr McMenamin said the thoughts of the police service were with the victims of the assault in Parnell Square earlier in the day.

Speaking about the riot, he said: "The violence had nothing whatsoever to do with a serious assault which occurred this afternoon on Parnell Square, it was gratuitous thuggery."

Irish President Michael D Higgins said his thoughts were with those injured in the stabbing.

He said: "This appalling incident is a matter for the gardai and that it would be used or abused by groups with an agenda that attacks the principle of social inclusion is reprehensible and deserves condemnation by all those who believe in the rule of law and democracy."

Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee labelled the scenes of disorder "intolerable" and said a "thuggish and manipulative element must not be allowed to use an appalling tragedy to wreak havoc".

"We will not tolerate a small number using an appalling incident to spread division," she said.

Earlier, Irish premier Leo Varadkar and deputy premier Micheal Martin extended their thoughts to those injured in the stabbing attack.

A Garda public order unit was deployed near the crime scene cordon around Parnell Square and O'Connell Street around 6.30pm as protesters started to scuffle with officers and flares and fireworks were thrown at the Garda line.

As the violence escalated, a Garda car was set alight, a Luas tram and several buses on O'Connell Street were set on fire, and a bus and car were torched on O'Connell Bridge.

Rioters looted a Foot Locker store in O'Connell Steet as bottles were thrown at gardai on the landmark street.

In a series of co-ordinated presses, gardai dispersed a large portion of the crowd onto nearby roads.

Smoke from bus and car fires filled the air while a Garda helicopter monitored the situation from overhead.

Dublin Fire Brigade responded to the fires that broke out.

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

He said some individuals were using a tragic event "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."