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Explaning the Dublin Riots
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Ryan Dulaney

Dec 15, 2023

Ireland has long been known to be a peaceful prosperous republic, yet in late November riots broke out in Dublin after a stabbing left three children and two adults gravely injured. This may foreshadow a shifting reality within Irish politics as public opinion is increasingly unaligned with government policy.

November 23 was one of the most significant days in Ireland since the state’s founding. An attack near a school left two children and three adults injured or in critical condition.

Public speculation on the attacker’s Algerian nationality and status as an immigrant sparked reactions from the anti-immigration faction in Ireland. Protests were improvised via social media, and that night police who arrived at the protest were shocked to encounter uncharacteristic riots and mob violence from the citizens of Dublin. 

The eruption of dissidence is the result of more than a year’s worth of tensions in the nation. Ireland’s government has sought to serve as an ideal example for EU policy. As such, it has increasingly been taking in asylum seekers from all across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The war in Ukraine increased this asylum seeking population. Meanwhile Ireland’s growing number of impoverished and unemployed citizens receive no such social program.   

Polls that surveyed the Irish population's political concerns revealed that housing and the cost of living topped the list. For years, the cost of living in Dublin has been rising.

This has created a severe shortage of affordable housing, especially for the younger Irish generation, which naturally has a lower socio-economic status. The housing crisis coincides with this increasing flow of immigrants and refugees the Irish government provides housing for, creating domestic tensions over the policy.

In 2022, Ashling Murphy, a 23 year old woman, was murdered by an immigrant who was given asylum, despite being convicted of sex crimes in his home country. Some members of the Irish media condemned parts of her boyfriend's victim impact statement, which criticized the government for allowing in and providing the housing to an unskilled and unemployed convict. Some media omitted this aspect of the statement because it may incite hatred toward the immigrant population.

On top of recent economic struggles, Ireland has recently experienced a worrying rise in violent crimes. According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, “homicide in Ireland rose by 30% across 2022[...]thefts and similar offenses rose by a 41%.” A constant of human civilization is when poverty increases, crime will follow suit. This decrease in the quality of life for Irish citizens against the backdrop of rising crime and mass unvetted immigration is largely responsible for the events on November 23.

A country known for its hospitality as “the land of a hundred thousand welcomes” now has polls showing more than a quarter of the voting population would support a strong anti-immigration party and or candidate, doubling the figures from 2021. The nation has reached a watershed moment in which public opinion does not align with government policy. The protests and riots have been labeled by the establishment as a violence by the far right, continuing to ignore the reality which underlies its origin.  

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