Horrific assault and the riots that followed indicate huge problems Irish politics cannot continue to ignore

Some additional thoughts to Brian’s round up last night on the first widespread rioting in Dublin since the reaction to the Love Ulster Parade that took place roughly the same quarter back in 2005.

In a hastily written oped in The Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole rightly identifies this as a “testing moment” for the Republic, but he risks erring towards disowning the problem when he simply argues that the Irish people are “better than this”.

Whilst I agree with the general sentiment (wherever it applies, be it the Netherlands, the US or even the often berated Brexit Britain), I think Ireland (to use the modern parlance for the south) has a number of big problems it has been wilfully ignoring.

As Brian rightly notes, we don’t yet have a clear cause for the violence, but An Garda Siochana have not ruled out a terror attack. While it certainly carries the hallmarks of similar attacks in Britain and throughout mainland Europe, Gardai have ruled it out. [Updated text]

The irony will not be lost on many observers just how angry (and abusive) the public square has become from the Dail to the council chamber of Derry and Strabane District Council, particularly but not exclusively over the terrible situation in Gaza.

And while this has been going on mainstream politicians seem not to have noticed that underlying all of the public support for the Palestinian cause closer to home there’s been a huge rise in anti immigrant sentiment in the city and the country as a whole.

There have been no less than 300+ ‘protests’ against immigration over the last year. And, whilst the mainstream media often likes to congratulate itself on how free of the scourge of populism the south is, the Eurostat figures tell a very different story.

In a survey of 6000 people of African descent of those living the Republic some 51% said they’d been subject to racial harassment in the last five years…

Now there will be extenuating reasons as to why Ireland appears to have a much worst problem with racialist abuse of minorities than the UK, not least the far bigger populations of migrants and much longer historical presence in Britain’s cities.

I’ve worked in inner city schools in Copenhagen and Stockholm where the atmosphere was so tense you felt that a fight could break out amongst the kids there at any moment. These problems do appear to ease over time, but not without due attention.

Handwringing (or pearl clutching as some of our inmates like to put it when slapping someone down whose views they can’t thole) is not enough. There are no eccentric Orangemen to blame for lighting the blue touch paper. This is an Irish problem.

And so, it now appears, is terrorism. Gardai confirmed this pm that it was not terror related. This is a testing moment, but one that really must not be swept back under the carpet or it may take the whole country with it over a blind waterfall of hate.

I do not know it — it is without name — it is a word unsaid.

-Walt Whitman

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