Dublin synagogue defaced with swastika graffiti
Gardaí treating vandalism as criminal damage offence
Members of the Dublin Jewish congregation attend an event at the Terenure Synagogue in 2008. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Garda are investigating the vandalism of a south Dublin synagogue after a swastika symbol was painted on an outer wall last week.
The incident occurred at the Terenure Synagogue on Rathfarnham Road in the early hours of last Friday, December 28th. No suspects have been identified and investigations are continuing.
Gardaí in Terenure are investigating the incident as a criminal damage offence, a spokeswoman said.
It is not yet known if there was an anti-Semitic motive behind the vandalism. The graffiti has since been removed.
Last month a security guard at the synagogue was attacked when someone threw an object at him. However it is understood the attacker suffered from mental health issues and was not targeting the synagogue specifically.
A spokesman for the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland declined to comment on Thursday and the synagogue did not return calls. However it is understood the staff are treating it as an episode of drunken vandalism rather than targeted anti-Semitism.
“There was nothing leading up to this. It doesn’t seem to be part of a pattern so we’re hoping it’s just a drunk fool,” said one staff member who asked not to be named.
The Terenure synagogue has been a victim of anti-Semitic graffiti in the past. In 2005, a 40-year-old Co Louth man was jailed for 20 months after being caught spray-painting a swastika at the entrance to the facility.
On the same date, he had spray-painted swastikas on two other Dublin synagogues.
Passing sentence, Judge John Coughlan said: “In my view, it’s very important that a signal be sent out to all Irish people, north and south, that we do not tolerate racism or racial bigotry on the island of Ireland.”
Ireland has no specific laws for dealing with hate crime, aside from the rarely used Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act which has resulted in just five convictions in thirty years.
Incidents such as the vandalism of the synagogue are usually dealt with under criminal damage legislation.
Last year a man was charged with criminal damage for allegedly vandalising The George, a gay nightclub in Dublin city centre, with homophobic graffiti. He was later acquitted.