The air was thick with smoke and a double-decker bus was on fire - how gardaí struggled to contain the Dublin riots

Street mayhem spills over from close to Parnell Street, where Garda car set ablaze and several officers injured

It was shortly before 8pm and Garda in riot gear and shields were advancing down O’Connell Street.

Nearby, an empty double-decker bus was on fire, as rioters also set a Luas tram alight, bringing chaos to Dublin city centre.

The riot had spilled over from close to Parnell Street, where a Garda car had been set on fire and several gardaí injured, close to the site where three young children and a women in her 30s were stabbed earlier on Thursday.

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Gardaí began advancing from O’Connell Street, Aston Quay and Westmoreland Street by 8.30pm, to remove rioters and clear the surrounding areas.


On every junction facing O’Connell Street, strong lines of gardaí, some with helmets and shields, stood blocking entry and shouting at any who came close to “get back” as efforts continued to effectively seal off the capital’s main thoroughfare.

Rioters threw bins in the direction of the Garda line on Westmoreland Street, as an altercation broke out between police and a man who refused to move back.

The crowd set several bins alight on Westmoreland Street and began to kick windows on the street, as three masked men made their way towards gardaí on e-scooters, shouting “come on, come down and fight us!”

A woman was hit as protesters threw a glass bottle towards gardaí. Cars were stopped on D’Olier Street to allow an ambulance through for another person, who was lying on the ground surrounded by gardaí.

Elsewhere on Abbey Street Lower, rioters launched a stream of glass bottles at a line of gardaí, causing them to charge out and move the protesters further down the street.

Rioters broke into several stores around the city centre, including Arnotts, a Gala corner shop and a Sports Direct, looting amid the chaos.

Many onlookers appeared to relish the disorder, drinking alcohol as they watched, while a smaller number aggressively goaded and threatened frontline members of the force.

One confrontational man shouted threats, saying “you’re really hard there with your batons; but we’ll get batons, we’ll get guns”.

As anyone approached the lines they were loudly ordered to “get back” and “go the other way”.

The air was thick with smoke and at one point several large bangs rang through the city, as Garda helicopters whirred overhead.

The entire width of Abbey Street beside Supermacs was covered in flames, seemingly the scorched remains of a vehicle.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris described the attacks led by anti-immigration protesters as “disgraceful” and perpetrated by “a complete lunatic, hooligan faction driven by far-right ideology”.

Footage posted on social media showed gangs of men and teenage boys throwing missiles at gardaí and setting a Garda car alight. Mr Harris said he was drafting in additional Garda resources to deal with the incident.

“I think these are disgraceful scenes in terms of a major investigation, the maintenance of the scene, and the gathering of evidence,” he said.

“We have a complete lunatic hooligan faction driven by far-right ideology, and also this disruptive tendency here, engaged in serious violence now. I am drafting in resources to deal with that and that will be dealt with properly. I have made it very clear I have given full direction to our resources here in the DMR [Dublin Metropolitan Region] in respect of making arrests and bringing offenders to justice.”

He asked the public not to listen to misinformation circulating in relation to any possible motive for the earlier incident where a man stabbed the woman and children outside a childcare facilty.

“It is our responsibility to make sure we police the streets. And as part of that, we ask people to act responsibly and not to listen to misinformation and rumour that is circulating on social media. The facts are being established but the facts are still not clear and a lot of the rumor and innuendo is being spread for malevolent purposes.”

He said the motive for the earlier incident remained unclear.

“We have to investigate that thoroughly and when that is known that will inform our investigation on how we will proceed. The motive behind this is a very important part of our investigation — that is what we are trying to determine. In the meantime, we have serious public order problems to deal with in the city tonight and those scenes are disgraceful and I wish people would calm down go home and allow us to conduct our duties and our investigations properly.”

Asked if he had ruled out a terrorist motivation for the stabbings, he replied: “I can’t offer clarity at this moment in time in respect of what the motivation is from whatever quarter it might be. At this moment in time all lines of inquiry, all motives, this remains open I’m not going to speculate any further in respect of a terrorist motive.”