Five people including children in hospital after knife attack in Dublin

305
Five people including children in hospital after knife attack in Dublin
Police detain a suspect as justice minister condemns ‘appalling attack’ near school in city centre

Five people including children in hospital after knife attack in Dublin

Police detain a suspect as justice minister condemns ‘appalling attack’ near school in city centre

Irish police have detained a man after a stabbing attack injured three children and two adults outside a primary school in central Dublin.

The incident happened at about 1.30pm on Thursday outside Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire, a school at Parnell Square East, a bustling part of Ireland’s capital.

Police said a five-year-old girl, a woman in her 30s and a man in his 50s sustained serious injuries. The girl was receiving emergency medical treatment. A five-year-old boy and six-year-old girl were treated for less severe injuries. The boy was discharged from hospital.

Police were treating the attack as a “standalone” incident and did not consider it “terror-related”, Supt Liam Geraghty told a press conference at Mountjoy garda station, which set up an incident room.

A man in his 50s who was detained was a “person of interest” and police were not looking for any other person at this time. Geraghty appealed to anyone with information about the incident, including mobile phone footage of the attack and its aftermath, to come forward.

He praised the bystanders who intervened in what he said was a traumatic and dangerous incident.

The garda commissioner, Drew Harris, said it was too early to ascribe a motive. “An individual has been arrested, we’re not seeking anyone else in respect of this incident itself at this moment in time but the investigation will obviously unfold.” Harris declined to comment on the suspect’s nationality, though he noted a “huge amount” of speculation online.

Violent scenes broke out near the site of the attack on Thursday night as crowds of protesters gathered.

A Garda public order unit was deployed in the area around Parnell Square, Parnell Street and O’Connell Street. A car was set on fire and some protesters were involved in scuffles with gardai, while others threw bottles at officers.

Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire is an Irish-medium primary school with 172 pupils based in a four-storey Georgian building on Parnell Square, a busy thoroughfare in Dublin’s north inner city.

The attack reportedly happened as pupils emerged from the school. Bystanders disarmed the suspect and pinned him to the ground, with several kicking him, one witness, Siobhan Kearney, told RTÉ. “People were trying to attack the man. So me and an American lady formed a ring around him saying we’d wait on the garda.”

Another man safeguarded the knife for police to retrieve, said Kearney. “Two children and the woman were taken back into the school where they were coming from. It was absolutely bedlam”.

Ambulances and other emergency services arrived within minutes. Streets were sealed off and the area was declared a crime scene.

Leo Varadkar expressed shock. The taoiseach said in a statement: “A number of people have been injured, some of them children. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to them and their families.”

Varadkar thanked emergency services for what he said was a speedy response. “Gardaí have detained a suspect and are following a definite line of inquiry.”

The justice minister, Helen McEntee, called the incident “an attack on innocence itself” and expressed confidence in the investigation. “This attack has shocked us all, and I have no doubt that the person responsible will be brought to justice.”

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation expressed solidarity with the school community of Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire. “We are thinking of the children, their families and the school’s staff during this unimaginably difficult time.”

The education minister, Norma Foley, said the National Educational Psychological Service was providing support.