THIS newspaper was barely on the streets last week when a horrific attack on schoolchildren outside a school in Dublin’s north inner city took place, sparking a terrifying evening of social unrest. ‘Social unrest’ is probably a very polite way to explain how the State lost complete control of its capital city for a number of hours.
What started as an angry mob shouting slogans and racist taunts very quickly turned into a sinister gathering of anti-social elements using the distraction to feather their own nests by looting shops and grabbing whatever swag they could lay their hands on.
These were scenes more reminiscent of continental Europe which, sadly, has become very familiar with such events in recent years.
But, as a result, their police forces have policies and strategies to deal with such disturbances and many countries’ law enforcers – the French in particular – do not tolerate the kind of wild antics and feral behaviour witnessed on our main shopping street last Thursday night.
One of the most basic tenets of policing unruly crowds was missing – our gardaí were seriously outnumbered by their assailants. Eye witnesses have said that, in some instances, 40 or 50 men were bearing down on groups of just nine or 10 gardaí.
It was reported that as many as 60 gardaí were injured on the day, but it’s a wonder that none were fatally injured, such was the vitriol and anger being directed at them.
The Justice minister made some astonishing comments, both in recent months and in the aftermath of last Thursday’s riots. She said that Dublin city remains ‘safe’, though she has rowed back a bit in recent days. But if she ever believed that, then she must not have been listening to much talk radio or reading any newspapers about the increasingly threatening sentiment around the city centre in the past two or three years.
Many government mouthpieces have uttered ridiculous comments like ‘nobody could have seen this coming’.
Hundreds not only saw this coming, but have been warning of it for many, many months.
The very ministers and TDs who scrambled to downplay the seriousness of the levels of unrest in our capital were themselves held ‘hostage’ inside Leinster House last September. They were very quick to complain about the very obvious ‘attack on democracy’ then. But, far from the baying crowds on Dublin’s northside last week, these same politicians spoke of ‘isolated incidents’ and ‘unprecedented’ events.
Anyone watching the playbook of far-right protagonists across Europe and the US in recent years could have seen this coming, even without the obvious red-flag event outside Leinster House just a few weeks ago – or the burning-out of emigrants’ tents on Sandwith Street in Dublin last May. And lest anyone think this is a Dublin-centred problem, there have been many sinister events occurring all over the country, which have been either instigated, or piggy-backed on, by members of right-wing groups or individuals.
Pro-censorship protests at our public libraries, the burning of centres earmarked for direct provision or refugees, and the blocking of roads leading to such centres, are all chapters from this dog-eared and disgusting playbook of hate. Not to mention the very visible racist comments regularly made to the many wonderful emigrants who have come to our country to better themselves – in the same way that so many millions of Irish have done in the past in other countries, and continue to do today.
The irony of that is lost on these ridiculous xenophobes, of course.
We cannot get complacent or think this is just a Dublin issue. When left unchecked, such vile displays of hatred spread like a cancer.
Right here, on our very own doorstep in West Cork, a sect is operating with very sinister links to other groups worldwide. Last year, they welcomed into their West Cork ‘congregation’ a suspected former member of a White supremacist group in New Zealand – a man who had been questioned there in connection with a terror threat. Indeed, the founding member of this international group is a high-profile convicted holocaust denier who visited here as recently as 2020.
This paper has been writing about that group, and the dangers of ignoring evil in our midst, for years.
Ignoring the simmering hatred that was obvious to so many in this country in recent years led us to the situation which unfolded before our eyes last Thursday.
The time for ignorance is over, and this country’s innocence has been shattered. The solution is not clear, but the first step in solving any problem is acknowledging its existence.
Keeping roads safe for all
THE nights are getting dark and the roads of West Cork are not among the country’s best maintained. And so it behoves any road users to take care when out and about over the winter months. As daylight hours shorten, so does visibility. The many dog walkers, cyclists and motorists traversing the county must be on high alert for dangerous conditions and situations. Walkers should always face oncoming traffic and wear high-visibility clothing, at any hour of the day or night. And motorists, in turn, should drive with care and keep lights dipped when approaching pedestrians or cyclists.
Irish roads have become death traps for so many innocent people. Let’s try this winter to make a major effort to reduce the appalling number of road deaths.