The report to the UK Health & Safety Executive has been evolving very slowly, a few lines per day, over the last six months. It was a difficult task but I was motivated to try and capture these things in writing after some of the attacks on my family. Submitting it was a small milestone to be followed up with a quiet stroll and maybe a pint in Dublin city center.
Dublin seemed to have other plans though.
One of the scariest things, which I discovered early in the evening, is that the police (Garda) had failed to secure the bridges crossing the river and the mob had moved from the north side to the south side. Authorities revealed they only had a single helicopter and it had to take breaks for refuelling. Police told me they had been brought in from regions over an hour away from Dublin but their police lines appeared to be far too thin and they would have been easily overrun by a more organized mob. I heard rumors about the army being mobilized but didn't see that with my own eyes.
Shop owners had placed rubbish out in the street for collection the next morning. This provided a source of fuel for bonfires.
Things were equally bad on the public information front. All public transport had been canceled but the bus stop information screens continued to display information promised busses were on the way. Roads had been blocked but many young women were simply standing alone waiting at the side of the road for a father or boyfriend to drive in and get them. They would have been far safer getting into a group and seeking shelter indoors but there was no official communication to this effect. At no point did I see any emergency broadcasts on any of my phones.
Heading north up Camden Street, I had been warned what to expect. Bouncers at one of the bars were well briefed and told me that rioters had easily crossed the river from north to south before police lines were put in place.
The position of the police helicopter in the sky gave some indication of where things were happening. Dublin only appears to have one helicopter.
Passing Lidl on Aungier Street, I began to feel the smell of the city burning, although it wasn't yet visible at that point.
By this point, a lot of normally busy bars and restaurants were already closed and barricaded for the night. A small number of them had remained open, customers choosing to ignore the emergency vehicles zipping back and forth up the street.
A brigade of riot police was moving along the quay. I noticed these groups were only arriving well after rioters had already moved on. They were outnumbered and vulnerable to attack from behind. I followed them up the quay and then turning up towards the castle.
Even in the areas where things were burning, half the Garda units were without any riot gear whatsoever.
Newspaper reports have tried to link the riot to the stabbing earlier in the day. It is really important to emphasize that it was a warm night without any rain. Had it been cold or wet, many of these people would have simply stayed home. Some, maybe all of them appeared to have simply come out of the pub and decided to join in for fun rather than for any political motive.
This is one of those situations when you really value the service of the police, known as the Garda in Ireland.
On the other hand, I felt that the police were seriously understaffed. Looking at the pictures, we can see huge gaps between the riot police. Had the mob been larger or more organized, they would have easily penetrated the police lines and caused even more havoc. Any groups hoping to cause such chaos in future have gained valuable insights from observing the official response tonight.