Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD, speaking from her Dublin Central constituency today, has said, “Friends, this community, city and country is numbed by shock, overwhelmed with sadness by the appalling events we witnessed in the centre of our capital city yesterday.
“I know the school community of Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire very well. It is a place where children are safe and yesterday that safety was shattered in the most horrifying way.
“The attack on small children and the staff is every parent’s worst nightmare. I’m certain we all held our kids that little bit tighter last night and maybe even tighter still for some time to come.
“The feeling of everybody in this community is one of solidarity, support, and strength for those injured and everybody affected.
“Our thoughts are with those children and their carer who were stabbed. We send our love to them and their families as we pray and hope that they make a full recovery.
“This should have been just another Thursday in our fair city. Filled with the excitement of the approaching weekend. These children and their carer should have been safe in front of their school like every other day.
“I spoke with the principal today. The staff and the school community are emotional, raw, hurt but they are also resolute, unified, and determined to get children back to school, to support the injured and the families and parents of pupils are very worried now.
“Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire is a great school, rooted in the community, and it will come back from this awful situation even stronger. The wider community will come back from this too. This is a brilliant and diverse community where people really care about each other. That is a strong bond that cannot be broken.
“I want to commend those courageous members of the public who put themselves in the way of danger, to do everything they could to protect the children, and prevent further catastrophic harm.
“Their bravery represents the true spirit of Dublin.
“They ran to the rescue with love and courage.
“I want to commend the Gardaí who put themselves in the danger to keep people safe.
“Now, I want to talk about what followed.
“When small children lay in hospital being treated for horrific injuries, a mob fuelled by hate, who believe they are beyond the law, wreaked havoc on Dublin City. At time of real hurt, shock, and suffering, they took to the city centre hell-bent on unleashing destruction, menace, and fear.
“They intimidated retail workers, fire-fighters, paramedics. Attacked Gardaí. They burned buses, burned Garda cars, and looted shops. Their actions were disgraceful. Criminal.
“Everyone who participated should hang their heads in shame for what they brought upon this city and its people. They should face the full rigours of the law.
“Following the attack at the school, it was obvious to most that the atmosphere in the city centre was deteriorating quickly.
“As the situation escalated and public safety became a clear issue, we needed a common-sense response that ensured public order was maintained. That is not what we got.
“The cold truth and the reality that we must confront today is that the Gardaí lost control of the centre of our capital city. A mob was allowed to shut down the centre of the city. Public transport locked down. People stranded in the city.
“Members of the public, families and workers terrified in what was a threatening and volatile atmosphere.
“This was an unacceptable, unprecedented collapse in policing..
“The idea that this violence was unforeseeable is frankly nonsense. These hate filled mobs have threatened and brought violence to our streets before.
“This shouldn’t have happened and – let me be very clear – it can never happen again.
“The people of Dublin need to know that those in charge of government and the head of An Garda Síochána are capable of ensuring that it never happens again.
“I have spoken to Justice Minister Helen McEntee and to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to about the unacceptable failure to keep people safe last night.
“However, we all know this problem didn’t start last night. This has been building for months.
“Sinn Féin has been highlighting the crisis in policing in Dublin city for a long time because we do not have enough Gardaí.
“Let me say it plainly – people do not feel safe in Dublin City Centre.
“I do not say the following lightly, but it must be said.
“I have no confidence in how Dublin is being policed.
“The people of this city have the right to be safe on their streets, in their homes and in their communities.
“The Gardaí have my full support but given the catastrophic operational failures last night, I have no confidence in the Justice Minister, and no confidence in the Garda Commissioner.”