According to all the charts and graphs, things have never been better in Ireland. Yet to anyone paying attention to the real world, the recent riots in Dublin were predictable and inevitable, after years in which the ruling class flung the gates open to limitless migration, even as it told the Irish people to make do with pinched public benefits. The only curious thing is that it took this long.
The immediate cause was a knife attack on Thursday targeting a woman and three children outside a school. The alleged perpetrator is an Algerian-born naturalized immigrant (one of the children, a 5-year-old girl, has migrant parents). But this wasn’t the first violent incident to capture the public’s attention. A few days before that, a Slovak Romani immigrant was sentenced for the murder of a young woman, Ashling Murphy. She had been walking home from work by a canal when she was stabbed eleven times in the neck. It was reported that the assailant had been living on disability benefits in a publicly funded council home. Last year, an Iraqi immigrant murdered two Irish gay men, decapitating one of them.
In a nation with close-knit, high-trust communities until recently, this new reality is shocking and alien to Irish people. Dublin used to be renowned for its warmth, fun, and friendliness. Now everyone talks about how the atmosphere has taken a dark turn.
It isn’t just shocking incidents of violence. Ireland has had a long-term structural problem with housing provision. There are now more than 12,000 homeless people in Ireland, and around 30 died in the first half of 2023. Irish rents went up by 68 percent from 2010 to 2021. Land and housing are so prohibitively expensive that ordinary people struggle to find homes and form families. Popular rage has been building up over that for as long as I can remember. Each recent government has claimed it would address the problem, but it has only gotten worse.