From our correspondent in London
The profile of the author of the savage knife attack in Dublin can only fuel the controversy over immigration in Ireland. Of Algerian origin but of Irish nationality, the man had already had trouble with the law. And had at one time been subject to expulsion. The attack left four injured, including three children. A woman in her thirties and a five-year-old girl were seriously injured.
On the attacker and his motives, the Irish police remain silent but leaks allow the press to gradually paint his portrait. Aged around fifty, the man arrived in the country from Algeria more than two decades ago and was arrested in 2003. “He was then supposed to be expelled but he fought for five years against this decision” a police source told the Sunday Times. After review proceedings in the High Court, the eviction order was revoked. And, in 2008, the Ministry of Justice granted the Algerian migrant authorization to stay in Ireland. He later obtained Irish citizenship, which he has held for over ten years.
Recently, the man had been in the crosshairs of justice. Last June, he appeared at a Dublin court charged with carrying a knife and criminal damage to a car, following an incident in May. The judge ultimately did not issue the order, reportedly due to “serious mental health issues.” Yesterday the press also claimed that the police were waiting for the green light from doctors to question the attacker, under armed guard in a Dublin hospital. He indeed suffered head injuries, and was also in “a sort of psychotic episode when he attacked the children and the nursery worker”. According to the Daily Mail, the man lived in a home in Dublin municipality before unleashing his violence in the center of the capital on Thursday afternoon.
Very quickly on Thursday, the rumor spread on social networks that the attacker was of foreign origin. And unprecedented violence broke out in Dublin, with some 500 rioters burning vehicles, looting businesses and attacking the police. Protesters waved Irish flags and “Irish Lives Matter” signs. This speech was relayed by Irish MMA star Conor McGregor, followed by millions of people on social networks. “We will not lose more women and children to twisted people who should not even be in Ireland. We are at war,” he said on X (formerly Twitter). Police denounced “far-right” agitators.
These riots are spectacular testimony to the rise of anti-migrant sentiment in Ireland. Tensions are fueled by migratory pressure combined with a shortage of housing. The arrival of migrants from Libya and Syria, then of Ukrainians fleeing the war, has exacerbated these social problems. In this country of 5.3 million inhabitants, nearly 100,000 refugees have arrived from Ukraine, one of the highest proportions in the EU in relation to the population. The number of asylum seekers has increased dramatically in recent years, overwhelming the system. According to official figures, asylum applications increased more than five-fold in 2022 compared to 2021.
In recent months, hotels housing asylum seekers have been besieged and tent camps burned. In May, the police already recorded 127 “anti-immigration” demonstrations since the start of the year.