Rioters in Dublin brought shame on Ireland says Leo Varadkar at British-Irish Council meeting

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, speaking at the British-Irish Council at Dublin Castle,

Rioters who wreaked destruction during a night of violence in Dublin brought shame on Ireland, the country’s premier said, as he vowed to use the full force of the law against them. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the estimated 500 people responsible for the disorder as hate-filled, violence-loving cowards. Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has blamed far right “hooligans”.

Thirty-four people were arrested in riots that saw buses and trams burned, shops looted and several Garda vehicles damaged. Garda members were injured, one seriously, as 400 officers responded to the unrest. The violence flared after a knife attack on three schoolchildren and their care assistant outside a school in the north inner city of Dublin at about lunchtime on Thursday. A five-year-old girl is in a critical condition in hospital while the female care assistant, in her 30s, is 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 remains in hospital 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. A clean-up operation was under way on Friday after the disorder, with burned-out Luas tram carriages lifted off the track by cranes and broken glass and missiles swept off the streets. 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 one Garda officer received a serious injury, with “numerous other members injured”, as missiles were thrown at them. He said 13 shops had been significantly damaged or subjected to looting and 11 Garda cars were damaged. Thirty-two people are expected to appear in court in the city on Friday charged in connection with the violence. Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said there was “very strong legislation”, including prison sentences of up to 12 years for a conviction for attacking gardai. Ms McEntee described a “very volatile situation” and said there was a very strong gardai presence in Dublin as well as monitoring of online activity.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said elected politicians needed to be able to articulate the concerns of their electorate to combat the rise of far-right extremism.

Speaking in Dublin following riots in the city, Mr Heaton-Harris referred to the rise of the British National Party in England.

Asked if he was worried that similar scenes could occur in the UK, he said: "I would like to think we wouldn't see that on any of our streets but actually we have in the past.

"I don't think I'm in a position to suggest nothing like that could happen in the future, or indeed suggest to the Irish as to how they could and should react to the pressures they have in this space."

Mr Heaton-Harris added: "On the rise of the far right, it is up to democratically elected politicians to be able to articulate the concerns of their electorate and we need to do that better.

"We had in English politics the rise of the British National Party only a few years ago, they were elected to the European Parliament, MEPs were elected to the European Parliament in two regions of the United Kingdom.

"We need to as a society have a proper debate about migration, immigration, what we need in skills and how we treat people and what pressures it brings to our domestic services. These need to be articulated by mainstream politicians because if we don't articulate them then we do leave a vacuum for other people who might not be as benign as we are."

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