Home Foreign Affairs Dublin Riots 2023 Explained: Stabber’s Identity, Riots, Government Response and Connor McGregor’s...

Dublin Riots 2023 Explained: Stabber’s Identity, Riots, Government Response and Connor McGregor’s Investigation

Following a knife attack on three schoolchildren and a woman by a former illegal migrant in Dublin, riots erupted in the Irish capital seeing demonstrators clash with police - here’s what you should know.

While the prime minister of Ireland asks that people avoid connecting crime with migration. Conor McGregor has urged the government to rethink their policy quickly, writing on X: “Ireland, we are at war.” (Images sourced via Wikimedia Commons)

Following a knife attack on three schoolchildren and a woman by a former illegal migrant in Dublin, riots erupted in the Irish capital seeing demonstrators clash with police – here’s what you should know.


On Thursday, November 23, three children and a woman were violently wounded in a knife attack. Among the casualties was a 5-year-old girl who was stabbed in the chest and a teacher’s aide who was knifed while using her own body to shield the kids, as reported via the Times. The crime, which took place at roughly 1.30 pm at Parnell Square East, triggered public unrest in the city centre. According to the BBC: “Rioters destroyed 11 police vehicles, while 13 shops were badly damaged and more were looted during clashes with riot police. “Three buses and a tram were also destroyed and several police officers were injured during over three hours of sustained violence.” 

Shortly after, several Irish officials and mainstream media outlets disavowed protestors as well as characterising them ideologically. Garda chief of Ireland, Drew Harris, attributed the riots to “lunatic, hooligan factions driven by far-right ideology.” The Irish Prime Minister or “Taoiseach” (Gaelic for “leader”), Leo Varadkar, labelled rioters as “shameful”. At a news conference last Friday, he commented: “These criminals did not do so because they love Ireland… They did so because they were filled with hate, they love violence, they love chaos…” As some victims of the stabbing in critical condition clung to life in intensive care units, Varadkar announced his bid to crack down on ‘far-right groups’ who the authorities blame for inciting hundreds of rioters to take to the streets, the Financial Times reported. Varadkar added that demonstrators “brought shame on Ireland” and vowed to accelerate hate crime bills (dubbed ‘radical’ by critics decrying a violation of constitutional freedoms) and toughening legislation on CCTV footage which may serve to apprehend such dissidents. Amid the scrutiny of alleged far-right politics, other voices are turning their attention to what is considered by many as the ‘elephant in the room’ behind this tragedy; immigration policy. 

Conor McGregor, a professional boxer from Dublin, wrote on X (formally Twitter): “The truth of the many failed policies of this government however, will never stop being the reason we have innocent children in hospital on life support after being stabbed by a deranged criminal, and whose current conditions are being hid from the public. “Shame on government and those harbouring this and trying to avert from the causes of this. Shame!”

The Independent explained that “McGregor has said he ‘does not condone’ the riots in Dublin but insisted that a ‘change’ must occur…” Reports suggest that the mixed martial artist is now under investigation for “online hate speech”. 

Stephen Bannon, the White House’s former chief strategist during the Trump administration, discussed the situation with right-wing political commentator Tucker Carlson. Bannon criticised the Irish government for their failure to manage the migrant crisis. He explained that over the past year, Ireland’s intake of immigrants is comparable to the nine million illegals who have entered the United States during Biden’s presidency. 

According to GB News, Bannon said: “Ireland’s probably one of the worst if, if not the worst, because the political class has totally sold out…” He continued: “And I think what you saw the other day in the response by the Garda, the response by the authorities was immediately to go after Connor McGregor and other folks who were saying hey we need to address this. Your proclamations are no longer good enough.” 

What happened in Dublin?

Three children, a woman and a man were injured in a knife attack near Gaelscoil Cholaiste Mhuire primary school in Parnell Square East at approximately 1.30 pm on Thursday, November 23. Sources from Garda (the state police force of the Republic of Ireland) informed The Irish Times that the stabber was loitering nearby before assaulting the victims as they were moving to an aftercare centre. Police confirmed that a 5-year-old girl was left in critical condition while the woman – a care assistant in her 30s who used herself as a human shield to defend the kids – was also in a ‘serious’ condition. Members of the public witnessed the incident and raced to intervene “at a very, very early stage” says Garda Superintendent Liam Geraghty. The Irish Mirror reported that the citizens who risked their lives to disarm the knifeman included Alan Loren-Guille, Warren Donohoe and Caio Benicio who are from France, Ireland and Brazil respectively. Fundraisers have been opened in honour of all three and the victims of the crime. 

According to a report by Sunday World on November 27, Donohoe received €11,820, Loren-Guille took in €12,382, the ‘Support Hero Carer & Children Attacked In Dublin’ cause saw €247,761 in donations while Benicio’s raised €360,969. 

In the aftermath of the offence, civil unrest started to erupt close to where the attack occurred with as many as 500 rioters on the scene, Varadkar claimed. “Police said over 400 officers were deployed in Dublin city centre to deal with the riot,” Sky News reported. 

They continue: “A Garda car was set alight, a Luas tram and several buses on O’Connell Street were set on fire, and another bus and car were torched on O’Connell Bridge as rioters clashed with officers. “A total of 11 Garda cars were damaged and 13 shops were significantly damaged or subjected to looting, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said. “Foot Locker and Asics shops were among those looted in O’Connell Street, as well as Arnott’s department store in nearby Henry Street.” 

There does however appear to be a difference between those rioting and looting, with videos surfacing on social media which show rioters condemning looters and accusing them of using the tragedy for their personal gain. 


Who was the Dublin stabber?

New details surrounding the identity of Ireland’s child stabber reveal that he was an Algerian migrant who evaded numerous deportation orders via help from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

As written by the Daily Mail: “The chief suspect in the multiple stabbing that left a five-year-old girl fighting for her life was arrested earlier this year for possession of a knife, the Irish Daily Mail has learned. “The man, originally from Algeria, has been living in Ireland for the past two decades. He took Irish citizenship more than a decade ago. “The man, who is in his late 40s, has come to Garda attention several times in the past year. “The latest incident involved possession of a knife, as well as criminal damage to a car in May. “He was taken to court on the charges but did not receive a conviction.” 

Gript Media obtained court records that reveal the man first arrived in Ireland in August 1999. Citing fear of torture by an Islamic militant group should he return to his homeland, he claimed asylum. This application was rejected, however, and the man received a deportation order in 2003. Despite this, he did not comply and Irish authorities subsequently classified him as an “evader”. 

The National Pulse explains that then, enlisting the help of two NGOs involved with asylum, the suspect was assisted over multiple failed court applications between 2003 and 2004. According to their report: “State opposition pointed to inconsistencies in the suspect’s case, with no new facts presented. The court application was denied and the deportation order was upheld. “The suspect then continued to live in Ireland with an unexecuted deportation order, continuing to challenge it with further legal applications, all of which were denied. “In 2008, the High Court found that previous ministerial refusal to exercise discretion granting the suspect leave to remain in the country was arbitrary and inconsiderate of updated legal definitions.” Subsequently, the Irish state was compelled to grant subsidiary protection and leave to remain. “The man later became a naturalized Irish citizen and continued residing in Ireland with the support of at least one separate NGO.” 

The Daily Mail report adds that the Garda are keeping an ‘open mind’ regarding the motive of the man who stabbed schoolchildren but have not ruled out terrorism. 

Given some Garda officials’ quick response in labelling protesters as ‘far-right’, it comes as frustrating to many observers that this same pace of judgement seemingly hasn’t occurred with the assailant.


How has the Irish government responded?

Politico reports that Varadkar “says new legislation on hate speech and facial recognition tech will be used” in the aftermath of the recent riots. Within weeks the government intends to pass two pieces of legislation. One offers the police ‘new powers’ to prosecute online promoters of ‘hate speech’ however the report does not confirm who is the authority over what constitutes such speech. The other permits the use of facial recognition technology to apprehend rioters caught on surveillance cameras in “buses, trains, private vehicles and shops.” 

Varadkar said: “It’s now obvious to anyone who might have doubted it that our incitement to hatred legislation is just not up to date for the social media age”, in reference to Irish social media accounts with ‘large followings’ and reportedly ‘racist messages’.

“We need laws to be able to go after them individually … They’re to blame and we’re going to get them”, he continued.

Five days after the stabbing of schoolchildren and a care assistant outside a primary school, Varadkar spoke about the situation and the rioting that sparked from it, the Irish prime minister asked that people not connect crime to migration, as reported via the BBC

“I really would ask people to try and avoid connecting crime with migration. It’s not right…”, Varadkar said.

Sceptics may be reluctant to accept this at face value, however, given recurring news stories of a similar nature. For example, in the rural French village of Crépol a 16-year-old high school student identified as Thomas was stabbed in the chest and throat by an organised gang who ambushed their local ball. RMX News explains that “the gang reportedly used Arabic slurs for White people as they stabbed several partygoers and are being described as Algerian immigrants.” Multiple eyewitnesses who survived what has been called an attack by roughly 15 to 20 young men confirm that the assailants also shouted, “We came to kill white people!”. For an increasing number of citizens, such events raise concerns over the sustainability of multiculturalism in its current state in Western nations.


Why is Conor McGregor under investigation of ‘hate speech’?

McGregor’s social media comments are being examined to determine if they ‘incited violence’. According to The Irish Times: “Statements by mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor about last Thursday’s stabbing in Dublin and subsequent street violence are among a range of social media posts being examined by Gardaí investigating last week’s riots.” 

The Dublin-born former UFC champion has expressed many views on X including criticisms of the government for their policies on immigration. He wrote: “Ireland, we are at war.” 

In a statement to the Guardian on November 29, McGregor said: “I am praying that the streets will remain calm and peaceful. We Irish are known for our beautiful hearts, and we have a proud history of not accepting racism”. 

“I do strongly believe our leaders must address this issue head-on with serious policy reforms regarding Ireland’s immigration and refugee processes. This is not a time for debate and posturing, our elected leaders must act in the best interest of Ireland’s citizens and our beloved country’s future”, he continued

Despite the scrutiny, McGregor has said the left-wing of Ireland can “scapegoat” him as much as they like regarding anti-mass migration riots. In a recent post on X, he wrote: “If it makes you feel better, I will take it…”. 

The billionaire owner of the social media platform, Elon Musk, endorsed McGregor for a position in office, suggesting that it was not a “bad idea”. 

Musk has also criticised Varadkar and, to his following of 164 million followers, posted that the “Irish PM hates the Irish people”. 

He added that the “current Irish government clearly cares more about praise from woke media than their own people” and that “suppression of the Irish people is the real crime…”. 

Musk criticised plans to expand legislation which would crack down on alleged ‘hatred’ or ‘inciting violence’ on social media platforms.

‘I’d like to see them shot in the head’: Councillor’s comments on Dublin rioters

Limerick City West Councillor Abul Kalam Azad Talukder made remarks in a Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) meeting on Monday that shocked listeners.

According to the Limerick Post the “Fianna Fáil Councillor has triggered uproar after he said that he would “like to see” those behind the Dublin riots “shot in the head” – or beaten by the public “until they die”.

“I strongly believe that this is not the face of Ireland. This is just some criminals looting the shops. I don’t think they follow any ideological purpose. They come to the streets and just rob. They should get punishment”, he continued.

“Not even an animal does these kind of thing. It is very shameful and they should get public punishment. “I’d like to see them shot in the head or bring the public in and beat them until they die…”, Talukder finished.

Conor Sheehan, councillor for the Labour Party, called for Talukder to withdraw the comments immediately, stating that “you can’t call for people to be shot in the council chamber”. Talukder replied “okay, I can withdraw that. I just put my emotion only. I hope Conor Sheehan understands that is only an expression of my emotion.” 

As government and Garda officials alike have been quick to ascribe ideological characterisations of recent responses to the stabbing of schoolchildren as well as calls to avoid ‘inciting violence’, it is hoped that Talukder – especially as a community representative – will be held to an appropriate standard of accountability. If not, the implications of a two-tiered justice system represent a significant concern for future civil unrest.