Knife attack in Dublin: riots and the question of motive

After a knife attack in Dublin: riots, looting and the question of the motive

Riots broke out in Dublin after a knife attack on several children and a woman. The security authorities blamed right-wing extremist troublemakers for the riots

© Peter Murphy / AFP

After a knife attack on several children and a woman in Dublin, the question of the motive remains. There were riots in the Irish capital on Friday night.

In Ireland, after a knife attack on several children and a woman in Dublin, the motive of the attacker is a mystery. The incident sparked speculation on social media about the nationality of the attacker. Severe incidents occurred on Friday night Riots in the capital. Security authorities blamed right-wing extremist troublemakers for the riots.

The crime took place on Thursday afternoon in the center of Dublin. A man around 50 years old attacked mainly children and stabbed his victims with a knife. A five-year-old girl and a woman between the ages of 30 and 40 were taken to hospital with serious injuries. A five-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl suffered minor injuries. According to reports, the injured woman is said to be a carer for the children.

After the suspect’s arrest, the motive remains unclear

According to media reports, the suspect was overpowered and disarmed by passers-by shortly after the crime. He was arrested at the scene and treated for serious injuries in hospital. No other suspects were initially sought.

The motive for the knife attack is still unclear, Irish police chief Drew Harris emphasized to journalists. Nothing can be ruled out. The statements of a police spokesman had previously given the impression that a terrorist background was unlikely.

Riots in Dublin: looting and rioting

In the evening there were serious riots in downtown Dublin, during which several buses, a tram and a police car were set on fire. On social media you could see how rioters fought street battles with the police, who had deployed hundreds of emergency services. Bottles and fireworks were reportedly thrown at officers, stores were looted and windows were smashed. Xenophobic slogans were also shouted during the riots. As a precaution, police cordons were set up around the parliament building.

Demonstrators waved Irish flags and held signs reading “Irish Lives Matter,” a reference to the US slogan “Black Lives Matter” in protest against police violence against black people. One of the protest participants told the AFP news agency that the “Irish people” were being attacked by “these scum”. Others railed against “mainstream media.”

A bus burns on O’Connell Street in Dublin city center after a man injured three young children and a woman in a knife attack in Parnell Square East. After a knife attack in the Irish capital, in which, among other things, a five-year-old girl and a woman were seriously injured, there were serious riots near the crime scene in the evening.

© Brian Lawless / DPA

According to a reporter from the British news channel Sky News, hundreds of rioters, some of whom were masked, were said to have taken part in the riots. Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee spoke of “thugs, criminals who are using this horrific attack to sow division and cause chaos.” This will not be tolerated.

Police Chief Drew Harris warned of the spread of “disinformation” and blamed a “completely insane group” for the violence. This is driven by a “right-wing ideology.” “We are bringing in reinforcements to deal with this,” he said in the evening. Rumors that the army had come to help were denied by the armed forces.

Heated atmosphere on social media

The atmosphere on social media apparently also contributed to the escalation of the situation. According to Harris, there was a “huge amount” of speculation online about the nationality of the alleged attacker. He called on people to ignore “disinformation and rumors circulating on social media.” The facts still need to be clarified.

According to RTÉ broadcaster, local public transport in Dublin came to a partial standstill. Buses were rerouted. At around 10:30 p.m. local time (11:30 p.m. CET), police chief Patrick McMenamin said calm had returned and no further serious injuries had been reported. “It was an unprovoked fight,” he said.

“We are all shocked by the actions,” said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. His “thoughts and prayers” are with the injured and their families. The head of government praised the fact that emergency services were on site very quickly after the attack.

Ireland: discontent and resentment

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on the short message service X, formerly Twitter, that she was “shocked” by the “brutal attack.”

The knife attack occurred in an already heated atmosphere in Ireland. There is a chronic housing shortage in the EU country; according to government estimates, hundreds of thousands of apartments are missing. The widespread discontent among the population leads to resentment against refugees and asylum seekers. Right-wing extremist politicians continue to fuel this mood, and anti-immigrant slogans such as “Ireland is full” are circulating in online networks.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the riots in Dublin “cannot and will not be tolerated”. “A terrible tragedy should not be allowed to be used to cause chaos,” she stressed and called for calm.


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