McEntee says Dublin will see boosted police presence up to Christmas after riot

Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said a “strong and visible” police presence including four public order teams will remain in place in Dublin city centre up to and during the Christmas period.

There had been pressure on Ms McEntee to respond to safety issues in the Irish capital before disorder broke out last week, resulting in cars, buses and trams being burned and shops being damaged and looted.

In the wake of the riot, which was preceded by a stabbing attack in the city centre, the minister faced calls to resign as scrutiny of the policing response grew.

Holding a press conference following a Cabinet briefing which discussed last Thursday’s riot in the city, the minister said she had asked the Policing Authority to look at further support for the Irish police service An Garda Siochana in terms of equipment and guidance on the appropriate use of force.

Ms McEntee also reiterated her belief that the police response to a riot in Dublin was “absolutely exceptional”, but added that there are “lessons to be learned”.

She said: “I do not want any member of An Garda Siochana looking over their shoulder unsure as to what type of level of force that they can use in responding to these type of difficult scenarios.”

Asked if gardai could not have stopped the burning of vehicles and looting of shops, Ms McEntee said: “These are situations which unfold in a split second.

“I don’t think anybody could have predicted what would have led to Thursday night’s events.

“I think the way in which and the manner in which and the time in which the gardai responded was excellent.”

Asked if this meant nothing could have been done to prevent the riot, Ms McEntee added: “There are always lessons to be learned.”

The minister said she believed the situation could have escalated even further but said “order was restored” by gardai.

Ms McEntee also said the heads of a bill for the use of facial recognition technology, which could cover its use for investigating riots, would be before Government prior to Christmas.

Asked if additional resources for arming additional gardai with firearms would be provided, Ms McEntee said there had been no discussions and “no moves to change” the current structure of a mostly unarmed police force.