Tuesday 20 February 2018

Pepper spray attack on Spanish students condemned


Alan O’Keeffe

A pepper spray attack on Spanish students in Dublin has been condemned as “brainless” and “malicious.”

The students were attacked as they relaxed in a public park in Tallaght.

Two Spanish boys in their late teens needed treatment at Tallaght hospital after the unprovoked attack.

Local councillor Pamela Kearns said: “I’m absolutely horrified. This attack was brainless and totally unprovoked.

“Whoever did this were malicious and vindictive. I would like to apologise on behalf of the Irish people for this terrible incident,” she said.

A group of female and male Spanish teenagers were sitting on the grass at Parklands Park, near the Old Court shopping centre, on Sunday evening at 8.30pm when a gang of Irish youths began throwing eggs at them.

After subjecting the students to verbal abuse, the Irish youths then produced pepper spray and attacked some of the students.

Garda Superintendent Peter Duff said gardai were called to the scene by reports of a disturbance but the attackers had already fled.

Two of the Spanish boys, aged in their late teens, were taken to hospital in Tallaght after complaining their eyes were stinging due to a pepper spray-type substance, he said.

The boys were treated by having their eyes washed out.

Gardai are examining CCTV images in the area.

The attackers were dressed in dark clothes, were aged in late their late teens or early 20s, and were Irish, he said.

“The Spanish were all from the same school and they are still in Ireland. Anyone with any information should contact the gardai at Rathfarnham or Tallaght,” said the garda chief.

He rejected claims on social network sites that it was a racist attack. He also rejected assertions the Irish youths could have been ‘fascists’ or members of a neo-nazi group.

No other weapons were reportedly used in the attack and no blows were struck, he added.

Cllr Kearns, a Labour member of South Dublin County Council, said: “If such an attack happened to my children when they were abroad I wouldn’t let them return to the country where it happened.

“This comes at a time when we are working hard to attract tourists to South Dublin. A lot of local families take in Spanish students into their homes.

“The Spanish students have been great for the area and have never caused any trouble. This was an attack by random individuals.

“This will have a negative affect on efforts to create jobs in the tourism industry locally,” she said.

Gardai from Rathfarnham were liaising with the group of students and their host families in the Firhouse area.

Anyone who witnessed the incident are requested to contact Tallaght garda station on 01 6666000 or on the Garda Confidentail Line on 1800 666 111.

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