Everything but knife attack could have been prevented

World of Politics with Harry McGee

There are moments when you are looking at something happening before your very eyes and thinking, ‘this can’t be really, this can’t be happening’.

Last Thursday in Dublin was one of those moments.

It happened in three distinct phases. The first was when a man who was hanging outside a Gaelscoil in Parnell Square began to lunge at children as they came out of the school.

The kids were all either in naoineáin bheaga or naoineáin mhóra and were no more than five or six years of age. By the time he had finished, four people had been stabbed, three children and a care assistant. As I write two remain seriously injured in hospital.

My first instinct when I started reading reports of the developments was that this might be terror related or some reaction to the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

But Gardaí quickly ruled out any possibility the man was a terrorist, or there was a political or religious motive to the stabbing.

If as suggested he suffered from mental health issues, the man’s nationality was neither here nor there. But somehow it became known by mid-afternoon that he was a foreign national, an Algerian.

Soon this fact was being flouted on social media by anti-immigrant and right-wing activists, including a number of well known so-called citizen journalists. On social media, they called on ‘citizens’ to converge near Parnell Square to protest.

The second phase began in later afternoon when a small number of protesters arrived at the crime scene and began loudly declaiming against foreigners, with one hurling insults at a journalist who has covered previous right-wing protests.

As teatime approached, other people, mostly young men in hoods or with their faces covered by scarves, arrived into the city centre. There were also young hoodlums from the North Inner City and elsewhere, dressed in tracksuits, puffer jackets and their faces hidden by scarves and baseball cats or hoods.

At this stage there was still a visceral anger. You can hear it in some of the social media posts, people shouting that Irish children and a teacher had been attacked by a foreigner. But it was still contained.

Pictured: Dark day…rioters wreak havoc on O’Connell Street last week.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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