I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions since the horrific events of Thursday 23 November. Are the three little children, who are almost the same age as my own, okay? Will they recover? How will they cope with the trauma, after their physical wounds heal? How is the teacher who put herself on the line for the children in her care?
How could this happen in the middle of the afternoon outside a school in Ireland?
Like most people I was blindsided by the news. I was in the car on my way to collect my eldest from school when I heard the words ‘stabbing’ and ‘child’ on the radio. My ears pricked up immediately, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it was Ireland they were talking about. That sort of thing happened in the United States or maybe the UK, but not here. Not Ireland. And yet it did. I scrambled to turn down the radio and tried to shield my four- and six-year-olds from hearing the news for the rest of the day. Adults talked in code and hushed tones, as we all looked in utter disbelief at the news coming out of Dublin. A week on, it’s still hard to believe. And worse still, is that the little girl and the teacher are still in a serious condition.
We send our small children off to creche and school every day without a thought in the world for their safety. In my mind, it’s the second safest place they can be when not in the care of family. So the idea that children, especially the youngest and most vulnerable, could be in serious danger at their safe place of care and education was mind altering.
Then what was already a horrific day got worse. Rioters went on the rampage, looting shops, burning buses, assaulting the emergency services. Far right ‘protestors’ and opportunistic thugs causing havoc in the so-called name of anger at what had happened. But this wasn’t a protest. This was the nastiest expression of a seething undercurrent of racial hatred and bitterness that had been bubbling away under the surface. They used the horrific incident as an excuse to run riot.
Nothing about what they did had anything to do with showing support or solidarity or hope for the victims. Nothing about what they did was to show gratitude to the delivery driver Caio Benicio who jumped off his motorbike and put himself on the line to try and stop the assailant. It didn’t matter to these people, who oppose migrant workers living here and refuges seeking asylum, that this man was in fact from Brazil. He showed more morals and bravery than those thugs posses in their little finger.
I went to bed with so many questions whirling in my head. And every day since I’ve been trying to answer one big question. Would I bring my children into town now by myself in the daytime?
My two boys adore a trip on the train or Luas into town. It’s a huge excitement and adventure for them. Everything is bigger, faster, and more interesting. The shops, the pedestrianised streets, St Stephens Green park, the spire, the many bridges over the Liffey, the hustle and the bustle and at this time of year, the lights.
I’d love nothing more than to bring them into see the window displays, the decorations, grab a hot chocolate and enjoy the city. But if I’m being really honest, I’m wary about the thoughts of bringing them into town, by myself, even during the daytime hours. And if I delve further still, those feelings of fear have been there for a while.
The last time I brought them into town was last summer to visit a museum. It was 10am on a Saturday morning and before we even arrived into Dublin city centre we saw an on-the-floor physical fight between two grown women on the Luas. When we did get into town, the vibes felt off. There were streets I didn’t want to go down. I felt myself holding my children’s hands tighter and I had a feeling that if something did happen, there was no visible Garda presence around to help.
I don’t want to have my boys growing up thinking that their capital city is somewhere to be frightened of. But it’s hard to balance that, with the current feeling on the streets. And as sad as it is to admit, right now I’d feel safer going to other towns in my locality than into Dublin city with my two boys.
What do you think? Would you still feel safe bringing your kids into town by yourself?