Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addressed the Joint Committee on Justice today, November 29, where he provided an update in the wake of the riot that erupted in Dublin on Thursday, November 23.

Commissioner Harris opened his remarks by saying the force's thoughts "remain with the teacher and the three children and their families who were victims of the terrible knife attack."

Harris said the investigation is progressing and that they are "not looking for anyone else in relation to this crime."

He continued: "It is terrible that a minority then corrupted the suffering of others in an attempt to further their narrow-minded, and vicious agenda.

"They should be truly ashamed for this and the destruction they caused."

Harris said An Garda Síochána has arrested 38 people and its investigation is assisted by significant CCTV and reports from the public.

In addition, An Garda Síochána has established another strand of investigation under the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation "into those who we suspect are inciting serious public order incidents and hatred via social media," Harris said.

Harris then proceeded to set out the timeline of events of Thursday "so that Committee Members are aware of the significant work undertaken in a relatively short period of time to restore order to the city."

Harris said that the knife attack on the teacher and three children occurred at approximately 1:30 pm on Thursday.

Garda resources were immediately deployed to the scene, Harris said, to maintain the cordon so the crime scene was preserved to enable the gathering of evidence for a prosecution, begin the investigation, determine the motive, and liaise with distraught parents, teachers, and the local community.

At 2 pm, a 25-strong Garda National Public Order Unit was at the scene.

November 23, 2023: Scene on Parnell Square East after a person attacked a teacher and three children with a knife. (

November 23, 2023: Scene on Parnell Square East after a person attacked a teacher and three children with a knife. (

Harris said that at approximately 3:35 pm, there was a small, spontaneous anti-immigration protest nearby at the Garden of Remembrance, which passed off peacefully.

At 4:30 pm, a group blocked the Luas at Parnell Street/O’Connell Street junction.

At 5:40 pm, a large number of people – around 200 – charged towards Gardaí and attacked them physically and verbally. Garda vehicles were also damaged.

Harris noted: "In an extremely serious and unprecedented situation, some of the group sought to break through the crime scene cordon, but they were repelled by Gardaí."

Around 6:30 pm, fire attacks started on public transport and Garda vehicles, criminal damage and looting began, and Gardaí had fireworks thrown and fired at them.

At this time, there was already a significant Garda presence in the city, and by 7 pm, further Gardaí arrived.

"The numbers involved in rioting had grown considerably in this short time," Harris said.

November 23, 2023: Scenes from the Dublin riot. (

November 23, 2023: Scenes from the Dublin riot. (

By approximately 8 pm, the number of trained and equipped public order Gardaí had grown to 250.

"This was our largest-ever public order deployment," Harris said, adding that the total number of Gardaí in the city centre was over 400 with support from the dog unit, the mounted unit, and air support unit.

Harris continued: "While the intense violence was shocking and distressing, calm was largely restored to the city centre by 10 pm and full order was restored by 11:30 pm."

Harris noted: "While these terrible events were occurring, it must be said that routine and necessary policing also continued throughout the DMR [Dublin Metropolitan Region]."

Dublin was "back open for business the next morning," Harris said, "thanks to great work by Gardaí, all the emergency services, Dublin City Council,
public transport companies, and the business community."

He continued: "While I fully appreciate the hardship and damage caused by the extreme violence of these thugs on Thursday night last, other capital cities who have had similar such disorder have seen normal society shut down for days.

November 24, 2023: Crews clean up a burned out Luas in Dublin. (

November 24, 2023: Crews clean up a burned out Luas in Dublin. (

"Having said that, it is clear that we are facing a different form of disorder than we have experienced before and we must evolve our tactics to address this.

"We have started a review into our response to last Thursday's disorder under Assistant Commissioner DMR."

Harris said he is meeting with four Garda Associations on Saturday to seek their "immediate feedback," and that there will be further engagement with the Associations in the coming weeks. He added that An Garda Siochana willl also work with the Policing Authority on its review.

Harris then moved into outlining the changes that have already been actioned, including having two water canons ready to deploy as of last Friday evening.

Harris said An Garda Síochána will be adding to the already 1,000 trained public order Gardaí. This is in addition to the 100 Gardaí we added to the public order unit in the Dublin Metropolitan Region during this year.

Gardaí will be provided with "even stronger incapacitant spray and more personal safety equipment."

Harris said that in conjunction with the Minister for Justice, An Garda Síochána have sought "amendments to legislation to allow us to access audio from CCTV, which will enable us to advance incitement crimes, and to utilise facial and object identification technology for certain crimes including serious public order incidents, which will speed up the current manual review of CCTV material."

Body cams will be deployed from mid-next year, Harris said.

Harris added that since last Thursday evening, An Garda Síochána has had four public order units deployed in Dublin city centre, along with high visibility patrolling supported by specialist units such as the dog unit, mounted unit, and air support. 

This policing operation will continue throughout the Christmas period, Harris said.

November 29, 2023: Heavier garda presence in Dublin City Center. (

November 29, 2023: Heavier garda presence in Dublin City Center. (

Regarding commentary about An Garda Síochána’s approach to policing protests, Harris said "we take a graduated response that balances the constitutional right to protest with protecting people and property."

He noted that 50 people have been arrested this year following "anti-migrant protests" in the Dublin Metropolitan Region.

"It is our duty and our obligation to confront such individuals, and this requires a graduated response with the use of force a last resort, but we have and will resort to use of force in order to protect the public and protect Gardaí," Harris said.