Sunday, February 26, 2006
Dublin Riot Thoughts
I've spent the evening trying to decide what to say about the riot in Dublin today. It's been a long day and I'm tired so excuse me if this posting is even stranger and more confused than usual. Earlier I posted some photos first while trying to gather my thoughts, I may post some more later when I've gone through them properly. Part of this confusion is because I find myself very puzzled, not because of what happened, but because everyone is so shocked.
Last night I met some friends and everyone was in agreement that there would be trouble. If we could see what was going to happen why didnt the authorities? The Republicans have little respect for the rule of law in either the 6 or 26 counties so they would think nothing of violently challenging the forces of authority. Secondly the Love Ulster march was obviously meant to provoke an outcry in the Republic and to cause trouble. The more trouble the better for them as the Unionists can now point to the riot as an example of the hostility they face from Republicans on a daily basis in the North. The fact that they provoked the confrontation will not matter to them.
The only thing that surprised me is that it was allowed to get so compeltely out of control. At one stage there seemed to be fighting going on in 4 different areas of the city. From the day the route of the Love Ulster march was announced it was clear that they would be lucky to even get as far as O'Connell Street. The area they were starting in is a rough area of Dublin where the more aggressive Celtic fans like to congregate for Old Firm derby matches. As I walked around that area today people were standing outside some pubs jeering the police and cheering the rioters. To them having Unionists marching past their pubs was akin to an act of war. Once Republican Sinn Fein announced a counter protest the stage was set for trouble.
I think the police were caught of guard with the number of non-republicans who joined in. Like a sick remake of the 1916 Rising, once the fighting started the looters arrived intent on profiting from the situation. The bizarre thing was that of all the shops on O'Connell Street they decided to target Foot Locker. Are shoes that important to these muppets? Once the looters arrived in Dublin the situation moved from being a violent protest to one where trouble could erupt in any area of the city where shops could be looted, the Jervis center being a prime example. It also appears that the Gardai were fortunate that the looters targeted the Jervis Center since once they were inside they were trapped. Had they remained on the streets it would have proved much more difficult to pin them down.
Another puzzle is why any march or protest was allowed onto O'Connell Street while the street is being renovated. The street was a building site with flimsy metal grills between any potential rioter and an almost infinite supply of weapons and missiles. Who gave the go ahead for the route? Did they have any security experience at all? Was any attempt made to tidy away the building materials? Lets not even ask why O'Connell Street is still a building site years after it was supposed to be finished.
Finally it is a sinister development that members of the media were so clearly targeted. Normally people making a political statement want press coverage. They want film of police battoning rioters. They want photographs of people covered in blood. They want to be interviewed. Today the media were the enemy. This was yob violence designed solely to cause damage and injury. The riot was the goal more so than any political statement.
The Irish people now face a harsh reality. It is clear that there are groups with the goal of destabalising the Irish State. They feel that they haven't gotten their share of the Celtic Tiger and they will take what others have with force. Violence is more common today, a certain section of Irish society has learned that they can inflict violence and harm on others and they will not face any serious punishment. The rioters I saw today were predominately from a group know unaffectionately as skangers. They provide the expendable and unquestioning foot-soldiers for militant republicanism. Like the Nazi Brown shirts their only interest in politics is limited to the level of school yard bullies intent on ruling through force.
Severe penalites must now be imposed on those involved in todays riots. The Gardai must make every possible effort to identify those involved from CCTV and photographs. They city is full of cameras, use them. They must then prosecute all the rioters they can locate, or they will face them again in street battles.