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29 Nov, 2023 00:10

Europe is ‘paradise’ – EU state’s leader

Irish PM Varadkar urged citizens not to associate migrants with crime after the stabbing of three children in Dublin
Europe is ‘paradise’ – EU state’s leader

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described Europe as “paradise” and his country as “one of the best parts of paradise,” urging citizens not not to link immigration with crime during a speech in parliament on Tuesday. 

The PM’s comment came as Ireland continues to reel from the anti-immigrant riots that swept Dublin on Thursday night, after a man of Algerian descent allegedly stabbed three young children and their caregiver before he was subdued by bystanders. 

Because “Europe is paradise and Ireland is one of the best parts of paradise, thousands will come here and we just need to manage that as best we can,” Varadkar said, insisting that migrants were no more likely to commit crimes than anyone else and it was “totally wrong” to think otherwise.

“In a country of 5.3 million people, if there are hundreds of thousands of migrants, there are going to be a few of them who commit terrible crimes, just as there are people born and bred in Ireland who commit terrible crimes every day, including murder,” the PM said. 

Acknowledging that the suspect in the stabbing case is a “migrant, though a citizen and someone who has been here for over 20 years,” Varadkar stressed that the parents of the five-year-old child that the attacker had put in the hospital were also migrants, as was the Brazilian delivery worker who hit the attacker with his helmet in order to protect the children and three others who intervened to stop the attack.

“It is totally wrong to try to make out that there is a connection between crime and migration based on what happened on Parnell Street,” the Irish leader said, referring to the location of the school where the stabbing occurred. The attacker’s motive remains unknown.

Several officers were injured in Thursday’s riot, while at least two buses, a tram and multiple police vehicles were torched. Dozens of rioters have been arrested.

Irish authorities reacted to the worst unrest in Dublin in decades by vowing to strengthen hate speech laws and beef up surveillance. Justice Minister Helen McEntee rated the police response as “excellent,” while police commissioner Drew Harris denounced the rioters as “a complete lunatic hooligan faction driven by far right ideology.”

While he acknowledged there was a “real concern” about the nation’s porous borders, Varadkar told legislators on Tuesday that the number of migrants seeking asylum in Ireland had declined from last year’s record high thanks to his efforts. The country has struggled to accommodate unprecedented immigration, with 141,000 arriving between April 2022 and April 2023 alone, according to the Central Statistics Office.

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