Gary Gannon TD

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon has expressed no confidence in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris following last night’s unprecedented level of rioting in Dublin city centre.

Deputy Gannon, who represents Dublin Central, said:

“The scenes of near anarchy in our capital city last night have no place in any civilised democracy.

“Last night’s shocking events are the result of an absence of leadership – from both Garda management and Justice Minister Helen McEntee; a lack of planning or preparedness; inadequate resources; and insufficient training. There must be accountability for these failures.

“From 2pm yesterday, far-right agitators were posting in social media channels – on Telegram and elsewhere – that large protests were planned near O’Connell Street. Some Government offices were evacuated as early as 4pm yesterday, so it is clear there was an awareness of a heightened threat level.

“In those circumstances, it beggars belief that the main thoroughfare of our capital city, and the surrounding area, were essentially surrendered to far-right thugs and marauding gangs for hours last night.

“This lack of preparedness endangered rank-and-file gardaí, who were at times completely outnumbered, surrounded and viciously attacked by these thugs. The central core of the city was effectively lawless and prominent businesses were looted while buses, Luas carriages and garda vehicles were set ablaze.

“I, and others, have been warning about the rise of the far-right and the problems of violence and anti-social behaviour in the inner city for at least 18 months. Throughout that time, the Garda Commissioner has adopted a policy of appeasement of the far-right, which has not worked and is now utterly discredited.

“This level of wanton thuggery and criminality needs a far stronger policing response – not the kid glove approach adopted on this Commissioner’s watch.

“The riots in Dublin last night follow a spate of brutal attacks on tourists during the summer – in addition to violent far-right protests outside Leinster House – and will add to the perception that the city is no longer safe.

“The Minister for Justice’s only response was to announce €10 million in funding for garda overtime and some community wardens – a short-term, sticking plaster solution that will not fix the systemic issues we are facing.

“Despite the increased prevalence of far-right groups, the Commissioner has continued to take a softly-softly approach to this very real threat to law and order – an approach that blew up in his face in Dublin city centre last night.

“It is little over two months since rank-and-file gardaí in the GRA overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the Commissioner. Thursday’s shameful events show that this lack of confidence was not misplaced.

“Last night’s catastrophic policing failure must be a watershed moment in how the State responds to future security threats. I have lost all confidence in Drew Harris’ ability to do that.

“The Minister must now explain why, given the violent mayhem in Dublin last night, she should remain in her role – and she must come into the Dáil at the earliest opportunity and do that.”

November 24, 2023

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