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30 Nov, 2023 17:25

Conor McGregor complains of being ‘scapegoated’ for Dublin riots

The MMA star and whiskey entrepreneur was reportedly investigated for “hate speech” after a series of posts condemning Ireland's immigration system
Conor McGregor complains of being ‘scapegoated’ for Dublin riots

Mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor has accused the Irish authorities of making him a “scapegoat” for the destructive riots that swept Dublin last week. The unrest broke out after a man of Algerian origin allegedly stabbed multiple children in an incident McGregor blamed on the government’s lax immigration policies.

McGregor is “one of a large number of people who are being investigated by [police] for alleged incitement to hatred,” the Irish Independent wrote on Thursday, citing an unnamed source. The source added that many “ordinary members of the public” were being investigated for hate speech over comments they made on the night of the riot.

“Attempt to scapegoat me all you wish,” the two-division UFC champion wrote on X (formerly Twitter) a day earlier, adding that the “many failed policies” of the Irish government are the reason “we have innocent children in hospital on life support after being stabbed by a deranged criminal.”

Three young children and one adult woman were stabbed by a man in his 50s outside a school in Dublin last week, with the attack leaving one five-year-old girl seriously injured. Crowds of protesters assembled at the crime scene after Gript, a right-wing news site, reported that the attacker was an Algerian migrant. It has since been revealed that the man had been living in Ireland for two decades, successfully fought a deportation order, and had been made an Irish citizen.

The protests in the aftermath of the incident soon devolved into a riot, with multiple police vehicles, three buses, and a tram set on fire. Rioters threw fireworks and other projectiles at police officers, and a number of businesses were looted in the city center. Meanwhile, 38 people have been arrested, police commissioner Drew Harris said on Wednesday, adding that officers were still examining CCTV footage to identify more suspects.

Prior to the stabbings and subsequent riot, McGregor declared on X that Ireland was “at war,” in response to a report that non-nationals could vote in local elections, even though that policy has been in place since 2004. McGregor then described the stabbing suspect as “a grave danger among us in Ireland that should never be here in the first place,” denounced pro-immigration journalists as “weak and feeble,” and called on the government to “fix this situation IMMEDIATELY!”

McGregor’s remarks were immediately condemned by Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin, who called them “absolutely disgraceful.” McGregor responded by calling Martin “worthless and spineless,” and accusing the government of “blaming anyone but yourselves.”

Some 141,000 immigrants entered Ireland between April 2022 and April 2023, according to the most recent figures from the Central Statistics Office. Last year, a record 13,651 people sought asylum in Ireland, the majority arriving from Georgia, Somalia, and Syria. This influx has led to increasingly frequent displays of public anger in Dublin, including repeated protests outside an accommodation center for migrants last November.

Amid growing public backlash, the Irish government plans on introducing a hate speech law that has been described as “dangerous and draconian.” 

“We need to have the strongest laws possible so we can hold those who incite hatred to violence to account,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said last week.