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Comments of the Taoiseach, Dublin Castle, Friday 24 November 2023

Yesterday our country experienced two terrible attacks – the first an attack on innocent children, the second an attack on our society and the rule of law.

24th November 2023 - Leo Varadkar, TD

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Yesterday our country experienced two terrible attacks – the first an attack on innocent children, the second an attack on our society and the rule of law.  Each attack brought shame to our society, disgrace to those involved, and incredible pain to all 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 who we want to be – and this is not who we will ever be.

Yesterday afternoon innocent children were attacked outside the Gaelscoil Coláiste Mhuire in Dublin’s city centre.

It was a horrifying act of violence – and our thoughts are with the injured children, with the heroic care assistant who threw herself in harm’s way to try to protect them, and with all those who risked their lives to save lives.  They are the real Irish heroes, whatever their nationality – Irish, Brazilian, Italian.

Our thoughts are with the doctors and nurses in our city trying to save the lives of those who are injured, many of whom come from abroad.  Our thoughts and prayers are with a nation in shock.

Yesterday evening some people decided that the best way of responding to this 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 trains were set on fire, innocent passersby were intimidated, and pregnant women in the Rotunda hospital were made feel unsafe and in danger.

These people claim to be defending Irish citizens, yet they were putting in danger the newest, the most vulnerable, and the most innocent of our people.

Those involved brought shame on Dublin, they brought shame on Ireland, and they brought shame on their families and themselves.

These criminals did not do so because they love Ireland.  They did not do so because they want to protect Irish people.  They did not do so out of patriotism, however warped.

They did so because they were filled with hate, they love violence, they love chaos, and they love causing pain to others.  Looting a shop meant more to them than protecting the lives of our children, and they disrupted a Garda investigation that was underway.

The Gardaí regained control of our streets last night within a few hours, and I want to thank them for that, and for the risks that they took. I want to pay tribute to our Gardaí, particularly those who answered the call from all over our country who came to Dublin within a few hours.

As a country we need to reclaim Ireland, we need to take it back from the cowards who hide behind masks and who try to terrify us with their violence.  We need to take back Ireland from the unscrupulous who prey on the fears of those easily led into darkness.  We need to take back Ireland from the criminals who seek any excuse to unleash horror on our streets.

This morning, as Taoiseach, I promise that we will use the full resources of the law – the full machinery of the State – to punish those involved in yesterday’s grotesque events – and we will put in place measures to ensure that any repeat attempts will meet the full measure of the law.

I spoke with the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner last night and met the Garda Commissioner this morning. We have sufficient Gardaí and there are more in train. We have sufficient equipment and there is more on the way. We have strong laws and the Garda Commissioner is free to use the Public Order Act over the weekend as required. We will pass new laws in the coming weeks to enable the Gardaí to make better use of the CCTV evidence they collected yesterday, and also we’ll modernise our laws against incitement to hatred and hatred in general – and that is more required than ever was the case before.

To all those cowardly champions of Ireland who took to the streets of Dublin last night, let me say one thing.  Ask your sisters – ask your friends – ask everyone you know – what they fear most on the streets.   They are afraid of you.  They are afraid of your anger and rage.  They are afraid of your violence and your hate, how you blame others for your problems.

As a Government, we will be relentless in protecting our citizens and defending our people:

  • The Gardaí will be on the streets and will do whatever it takes to fight back the waves of ignorance and criminality;
  • The Minister for Justice will co-ordinate with the Commissioner to ensure that we never witness such terrible scenes as the 23rd of November 2023 again.

Being Irish means more than saluting the tricolour, beating your chest, and pointing to where you were born.

It means living up to the ideals represented by our flag, it means being true to our own history, it means acting with compassion for others.

Today I call on us all to remember who we really are.  Because we are better than this.  And it’s time we came together and reminded others who claim to speak for us about what our country really stands for.



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