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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C The Taoiseach speaking to reporters in Dublin today

'We're better than this': Taoiseach Leo Varadkar condemns violence in Dublin

“Those involved brought shame on Dublin, brought shame on Ireland.”

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has condemned the violence on the streets of Dublin city last night, saying: “We’re better than this.”

Speaking to reporters at Dublin Castle this morning, he said: “Those involved brought shame on Dublin, brought shame on Ireland and brought shame on their families and themselves.

“Today I call on us all to remember who we really are. Because we’re better than this.”

He continued: “It’s time we came together and reminded others who claim to speak for us, what our country really stands for.”

At times during his speech, Varadkar became emotional.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris earlier confirmed that 34 arrests were made, while 13 shops were damaged, 11 garda vehicles were “either destroyed through arson or quite extensively damaged” during the rioting.

Three buses and one Luas were also destroyed.

The unrest came after five people, including three young children, were hospitalised after a stabbing near a school in Parnell Square yesterday afternoon.

A five-year-old girl remains in a critical condition, as does her teacher, following the incident. 

The Taoiseach also said he has total confidence in Harris and gardaí.

He said the Government will pass laws in the coming weeks to “enable the gardaí to make better use of the CCTV evidence they collected yesterday”.

“Also, we’ll modernise our laws against incitement to hatred and hatred in general. That is more required than was ever the case before.

“The Minister of Justice will coordinate with the Commissioner to ensure we never witness such terrible scenes as the 23rd of November 2023 ever again.”

‘Our thoughts are with the children’

Speaking about the stabbing yesterday afternoon, the Taoiseach also said: “Our thoughts are with the injured children, their heroic carer assistant who threw herself in harms way to protect them and all those who risked their lives to save lives.

“They’re real Irish heroes, whatever their nationality.”

He added: “Yesterday evening, some people decided that the best way to respond to this terrible attack was to take to the streets of Dublin and try to terrify, intimidate, loot and destroy.

“Their first reaction to a five-year-old child being stabbed was to burn our city, attack its businesses and assault our gardaí.

“As a result of their actions, buses and trams were set on fire, innocent passersby were intimidated and pregnant women in Rotunda Hospital were made feel unsafe and in danger.

“These people claim to be defending Irish citizens, yet they put in danger the newest and most vulnerable and most innocent people.

“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 are filled with hate. They love violence, they love chaos and they love causing pain to others.”

Earlier this morning, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said condemned the rioting in Dublin, saying “this is not who we are as a people”.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the British-Irish Council at Dublin Castle, the Tanaiste said in the first instance his thoughts are with the families of the children and adults who were injured in a knife attack at a school.

“It is very, very challenging and traumatic for them and their families and indeed for all the school children who would have witnessed the incident and indeed for their parents and we cannot lose sight of the horror of that attack and its impact and we’ll be working to support all those affected by that today and in the days ahead,” he said.

Turning to the later rioting, Martin acknowledged people are “obviously very, very concerned” about “the lawlessness and the rioting that occurred last evening in our city”.

He paid tribute to gardaí and all emergency workers who he described as having put themselves in harm’s way “to deal with the actions of a small minority in our society”.

“And I would say that this is not who we are as a people, Ireland has built a modern and inclusive society. It is something precious that we should all work to hold,” he said.

“We understand the need to respect other, the need to respect difference and the need to respect the dignity of every human being. This is something that we should hold precious and we should collectively as a society come together to recommit to those fundamental values.”

Martin praises Deliveroo driver

Martin has praised a Brazilian Deliveroo driver who tackled a man with a knife attacking children at a school in Dublin yesterday.

Caio Benicio had been on a job when he came across the scene at Parnell Square East and intervened.

Benicio told The Journal last night that he dismounted his bike, took off his helmet, and hit the attacker with it.

“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,” he said.

 “I have two kids myself, so I had to do something. I did what anyone would do. People were there but they couldn’t step in because he was armed, but I knew I could use my helmet as a weapon.”

He was saddened to see the chaos on Dublin’s streets tonight – with anti-immigrant sentiments being expressed by rioters and far-right actors.

“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.

Speaking to reporters today, Martin said Benicio’s part “should not be forgotten” and said he may have saved other children from attack.

“We had a horrific, violent attack on children and adults, we think of them, and we think of the Deliveroo person who came along to save the situation, perhaps for other children,” he said.