Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald today raised the horrific knife attack on schoolchildren outside Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire, and subsequent riots in Dublin’s City centre, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Leaders Questions.
Her contribution in full can be read below:
People are reeling from the events that took place in Dublin last Thursday.
In broad daylight, small children and their carer attacked. Stabbed outside Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire on Parnell Square.
One five-year-old child remains in hospital fighting for her life. We pray that she and all those injured make a full recovery.
We stand with the amazing school community who, under a heavy cloud of shock and trauma, did incredible work in getting kids back to class on Monday.
Taoiseach, how have things gotten so bad that young children are in danger outside their school in the middle of the day?
I understand, the alleged perpetrator is in custody. In time, we will learn how this happened.
The reality is that Dublin city centre hasn’t been safe for some time – anti social behaviour, open drug dealing and drug taking, street drinking, gangs hanging round causing trouble.
This shouldn’t be news to you, Taoiseach.
What happened in the aftermath of these horrific knife attack was deplorable, shameful, and criminal.
The burned-out cars and buses, smashed-up shop fronts, and the experiences of intimidation bear testimony to the destruction inflicted on Dublin by a mob of thugs.
Public safety collapsed.
Gardaí isolated and assaulted.
The idea that this couldn’t be predicted is nonsense.
This situation has been building for months.
By 2.30pm on Thursday, it was that obvious a threat to public safety was escalating.
Where was the Garda Commissioner?
Where was the Minister for Justice?
A strong policing response was needed.
Leadership was needed.
Instead, brave Gardaí were left high and dry.
I have full confidence in An Garda Siochana. I have zero confidence in the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice.
The cold truth is that Commissioner Harris and Minister McEntee lost control of Dublin City Centre.
For years, communities and businesses have been telling you that we don’t have enough Gardaí on the streets, on the beat, on bikes and in communities.
When those poor children were being attacked, I was meeting with a major employer in the city whose primary issue is concern for the safety of their staff in work and coming and going to work.
You’re not listening, Taoiseach.
Government’s depletion of An Garda Siochana has left people feeling unsafe and endangered in this city.
Teip thubaisteacht ar an bpóilíneacht a bhí anseo.
Ní féidir leis an Aire McEntee fanacht sa phost.
Caithfidh tú í a bhaint mar Aire Dlí agus Cirt.
Ultimately, responsibility lies with Minister McEntee.
In July, following several assaults and incidents in Dublin, the US government issued warnings to Americans travelling to Ireland.
Minister McEntee declared that the streets of the city were safe.
Today, the Canadian, Australian, and British governments have issued warnings to their citizens traveling to Dublin.
Yet, Minister McEntee refuses to accept that control of Dublin City Centre was lost.
It seems the Minister has moved from denial to full-blown delusion.
She’s clearly not the person to provide the leadership needed to restore public confidence in policing.
Her position is now completely untenable, Taoiseach.
You must do what is necessary and remove Helen McEntee as Minister for Justice.