Dublin riots: more arrests on O’Connell Street on Friday evening as hundreds of gardaí swarm city centre to prevent repeat of chaos

The force is mounting a significant security operation in the area following the widespread violence on Thursday in the wake of the Parnell Square stab attack and a number of men were detained and arrested by gardaí following a struggle.

A number of people were taken away in garda vans following sporadic altercations, as some youths refused to disperse, but the crowds gathered in the city centre were much smaller than Thursday and there is a far greater garda presence.

There are scores of gardaí on the capital’s main street this evening, however the city is generally calm and there is no sign of the level of disturbance seen on Thursday.

Many city centre businesses closed early on Black Friday – one of the traditionally busiest days of the year – and Dublin city centre was largely quiet by 7:30pm.

Jervis Street Shopping Centre was closed and the outside windows were boarded up for protection on Friday evening.

Around 60 gardaí were assaulted in chaotic Dublin city riots on Thursday night.

Three of these officers suffered serious injuries, including one male garda who was hospitalised with a severe injury to his toe.

This garda is based at Pearse Street station in the capital’s city centre.

Another garda suffered a broken ankle, while a third officer broke three fingers on one of their hands as they tried to contain the violence.

“Up to 60 gardaí suffered some form of injury last night when they were subjected to assaults. This includes cuts, bruises and significant scrapes as they were punched and kicked,” a source said.

Gardí have now acquired two water cannons from the PSNI to deal with any further disturbances or riots this weekend.

At the height of the violence, around 400 gardaí were dealing with what has been described as “mayhem” on the northside of Dublin city centre.

Multiple sources have expressed deep concern that many of these officers were not issued with helmets and had no formal training in how to deal with a major public order incident.

Sources say the scenes were “unprecedented in this country” and even led to a bizarre situation where garda units were calling other units “looking for pepper spray”.

It took many hours for gardaí to take control of the situation.

The American embassy has issued a “demonstration alert” to US citizens in Ireland as it says it is “monitoring reports of potential continued demonstrations in Dublin”.

US citizens have been urged to avoid crowds, avoid demonstrations, to monitor local media for updates and to be aware of their surroundings while in the capital.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris blamed the riots on a “complete lunatic faction driven by far-right ideology”.

A clean-up is still being carried out across the north-inner-city this afternoon as the capital comes to terms with the violent scenes, looting and chaos in the aftermath of the stabbing of three children and a woman outside a school earlier in the day.

A female creche worker and a five-year-old girl are in a serious condition after the incident on Parnell Square. Two other children suffered lesser injuries. A man, who is currently under guard, also suffered injuries during the incident. He is currently in an unnamed hospital in the city.

Shortly after the incident, a group of protesters gathered at the scene.

It wasn’t long before they attempted to break the garda cordon. Within a couple of hours, hundreds of people were on the street and it gradually grew more violent. As darkness fell on the capital, chaos ensued.

Garda Commissioner

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has confirmed a total of 34 arrests for public order offences so far.

He said 13 shops were significantly damaged or subject to looting, 11 garda vehicles were destroyed through arson or extensively damaged, three Dublin Buses were destroyed and a Luas tram.

A worker clears debris beside damaged public transport vehicles on O’Connell Street in Dublin, in the aftermath of violent scenes in the city centre on Thursday evening. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

“Huge destruction from a riotous mob who were in effect responding, and trying to break into and disrupt the crime scene. Order was restored between 8.30pm and 9pm as we deployed more resources,” he said.

“An Garda Síochána responded to this entirely and in an extraordinary fashion. Members from across the country responded, returned to duty, public order units from all over Ireland responded to Dublin.

“But we could not have anticipated that in response to a terrible crime, the stabbing of school children and their teacher, that this would be the response. In effect, those filled with hate and the hate directed towards An Garda Síochána, that they would attempt to storm through our cordon and disrupt a crime scene and then engage in violence, looting and disorder.

“Nobody could have anticipated that when these awful events started at 1.30pm.”Mr Harris said gardaí were monitoring the “build up of tensions on social media and were constantly adding to resources that were available”.

“Gardaí reacted quickly and were able to clamp down on that looting. This is not a failure of personnel, everyone responded to this and stood up to the plate, I now have to look at the tactics that we have for public order.

“We have not seen a public order situation like this before, this may be behaviour that is apparent in other countries, but I think that we’ve seen an element of radicalisation.

“We have seen a group of people that take literally a thimble full of facts and make hateful assumptions and then conduct themselves in a way which is riotous. But there is no failure here, this is regrettably how protests have moved on and now we have to graduate and have a proportionate response to that.”

Mr Harris said gardaí have “thousands of hours of CCTV to trawl through, but many of these individuals are well known to us, they have criminal records”.

He said gardaí have to make the assumption that there will be further such protests following the events last night.

“What happened last night was an entirely different scale to the events outside the Dáil, we’re going to have to have a fundamental review of our public order tactics given the amount of violence directed towards citizens, gardaí and also the community,” he said.

“I’m not going to say we got things wrong, what we saw last night was an extraordinary outbreak of violence and we have to then respond accordingly in terms of our graduated response to the policing of disorder.”

Meanwhile, the Garda Representative Association this afternoon said: “Yesterday, garda members from all over the country went to Dublin to provide support for their colleagues in an extremely volatile and dangerous situation and we wish to commend all those members who put the safety of their fellow gardaí and the public ahead of their own.

“The Garda Commissioner this morning spoke of reflection required on the tactics employed in such public order situations and we would of course welcome a thorough review with input from our members on the frontline,” General Secretary Ronan Slevin said.

“We at the Garda Representative Association have long called for greater resources, better training and to be more appropriately equipped for such events – both in terms of safety equipment and with technology such as body worn recording devices.”

Tánaiste

Tánaiste Micheál Martin condemned the “lawlessness and rioting that occurred last night in our city” and insisted he had confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Justice Minister Helen McEntee.

However, Mr Martin said there was a “degree of orchestration” with the riots.

“I do think we have to evaluate that, I think we have to look at our intelligence gathering and our intelligence services in respect of the degree to which many of these events are now being orchestrated, particularly utilising online platforms and the online world in terms of mobilising people to particular spots,” Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin thanked gardaí “who had to put themselves in harms way to deal with the actions of a small minority in our society”.

“What happened last evening does not in any shape or form reflect the views of the vast, vast majority of the Irish people. People have no time for the lawlessness, rioting and attacks on our gardai, fire services, bus drivers that happened last night,” he said.

“When you attack buses, when you attack a Luas, when you attack shops, you are attacking your own community, you’re attacking a family, you’re attacking friends, you’re attacking workers.

The scene on Parnell Street in Dublin city centre after violent scenes (Brian Lawless/PA)

Justice Minister

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said her thoughts are with the child and teacher who were seriously injured.

“This has been a hugely traumatic time for their families and communities, and it’s important that every support is made available to them,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“The gardaí are following a definite line of inquiry, they have identified a person, that person has not been charged yet but the fact that they’re not looking for anyone else in relation to this is important.

“I think people are trying to get their heads around what has happened, I absolutely understand that. This was something that we have not seen before and the fact that such innocent, small children were attacked in this way. It is the most brutal of attacks.

“We need to allow gardaí to conduct their inquiries and to make sure whoever is responsible is held accountable and brought to justice.

“The gardaí were there immediately, as you can imagine this was a situation that unfolded in a matter of seconds.”

Ms McEntee said she believes there are enough gardaí on patrol in the city centre.

“There was an additional fund of €10 million allocated for the city centre to make sure that we have a high visibility presence day in day out,” she said.

Ms McEntee said last night, a “small group took advantage of a particularly devastating act” and “wreaked havoc across our city”.

“This was a very volatile situation, you could see a number of people gathered peacefully but very quickly a number that were intent on causing nothing but havoc and they will be dealt with appropriately,” she said.

“34 people arrested, there were many of these didn’t cover their faces, they came in and caused havoc, that CCTV will be gone through, and they will be apprehended. And we have very strong legislation – up to 10 years in prison, but up to 12 years as well for someone who assaults a member.”

An Garda Siochana at the scene in Dublin city centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

President Micheal D Higgins said the earlier attack on the school was being “abused by groups with an agenda”.

Chief Superintendent Patrick McMenamin said “significant levels” of public disorder and criminal damage was carried out by small groups of “violent individuals”.

“Public transport was attacked, Garda vehicles were damaged and some commercial businesses were attacked,” he said.

“Some of my colleagues were attacked and assaulted, thankfully none were seriously injured and I commend them all on their bravery to protect our community.”

Videos showed people breaking into numerous shops along O’Connell Street. Rioters raided Arnott’s department store on Henry Street, and looted a Foot Locker store on O’Connell Street. People also threw bottles at gardaí. Others carried metal bars and smashed shop windows.

Parts of Parliament Street were seen ablaze as rioters and looters moved from O’Connell Street towards Capel Street as riot police attempted to bring the chaos in the capital to a close.

Gangs were also seen dancing on a garda car at Busáras as pockets of violence broke out around the capital. People attending a concert at the 3Arena were asked to find an alternative method to go home and not to go towards the city centre.

Stores shut their doors and closed down shutters ahead of closing time as violent scenes escalated. Arnotts was due to stay open until 9pm, but looters were seen forcefully lifting the shutters before 8.30pm.

In a series of co-ordinated presses, gardaí dispersed a large portion of the crowd onto nearby roads. Smoke from bus and car fires filled the air while a garda helicopter overhead monitored the situation.

There were also calls for calm and warnings against misinformation following the violent scenes.

Although gardaí in riot gear were deployed, the Defence Forces clarified that the army was not called in, despite rumours.

In a statement, President Micheal D Higgins said the attack on school children in Parnell Square was “horrific”.

“All of our thoughts are with each of the children and their families affected by today’s horrific attack outside Gaelscoil Coláiste Mhuire in Dublin city centre,” said Mr Higgins.

“We are particularly thinking of the 5 year old girl and the member of staff caring for her who are both in serious condition in hospital. All of our prayers are with each of them for a full recovery.

“The gardaí deserve all of our support in dealing with this incident. This appalling incident is a matter for the gardaí 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.”

Speaking on Thursday evening, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said: “We have to be so clear that what we’re witnessing this evening is a small group of people who do not represent me and do not represent the vast majority of people.

“They are using this appalling act to wreak havoc and to sow division,” she told RTÉ’s Primetime.

“They’re thugs. They’re criminals. That’s how they’ll be treated.”

Asked if, as Justice Minister, she failed to foresee an event like this or to realise how dangerous these anti-immigration protesters could be, she replied: “This is a small group of people, not a large faction of society, they have one aim and it’s to wreak havoc.

“They’re criminals and thugs, they’ll be put in prison.

“What was clear very early on, a group of people were intent on gathering.

A bus and car on fire on O’Connell Street (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There was a protest earlier that was a peaceful protest but a separate group had a different intention.

“We’ve had the garda response team on the ground all day, quite some time now.

“Gardaí have been putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the city.

“Gardai are on the ground, they are responding with force, but they can only do so much. A person sets a bus on fire, gardai have to take care of themselves and the people around them.

“There is always room to facilitate debate but these people just wanted to wreak havoc.”

A garda car on fire in Dublin

Commuters in the capital were hugely disrupted as the protests have made areas in the city centre off-limits for public transport. Many struggled to find alternative modes of transport home from work and began walking.

However, there was praise for the helpfulness of public transport staff, with broadcaster Joe Duffy lending his support.

All traffic and public transport through O’Connell Street was also blocked. And all Dublin Bus and Luas services were paused.

Lifestyle Sports pictured on Friday morning

A number of Dublin businesses also decided not to open their doors or continue operating for the evening.

Well-known night venue Tengu wrote on their official Instagram; “Tengu will be closed tonight due to the ongoing situation on O’Connell Street and the surrounding area. It is not safe to open the venue tonight. Please stay safe.”

Parnell Street bar The Big Romance also wrote online; “Due to the scenes on Parnell Street we have decided to close this evening. Our priority is the safety of our staff and customers alike.”

City Council cleans up the burnt out bus after Dublin City Centre Riots

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