Shock in Ireland after US Capitol is seized by mob


Political leaders in Ireland condemned the invasion of the Capitol Building in Washington DC by extremist supporters of Donald Trump.

Both chambers of Congress had been debating the Electoral College vote that gave Joe Biden the presidency on Wednesday when violent protestors and insurgents forced their way into the building.

Lawmakers and aides were forced to crouch under desks and don gas marks before being evacuated, taking with them crucial boxes of votes.

A mob of varying militancy was determined to stop the certification of the presidential election in favour of Joe Biden over Donald Trump. It followed a rally outside the building which was addressed in belligerent terms by Trump himself.

A total of five people died in the melee -- a policeman who was struck with a fire extinguisher, a woman who was shot by police as the mob advanced, a woman who died in the crush, and two men who died from a heart attack and a stroke respectively.

Irish viewers were left in disbelief that the centre of US power would be taken over with little resistance in what appeared to be a coup, at least initially.

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill said the assault on the Capitol “will not stop democracy” and expressed her support for the “many friends of Ireland” who work in the Capitol.

“Those involved in these shameful attacks will not succeed,” she said. “Hope and unity will triumph over fear and division.”

Among those who have subsequently resigned from Donald Trump’s administration are Mick Mulvaney, the US special envoy to the north of Ireland.

The US President’s former acting chief of staff, who assumed the role of special envoy in March last year, described the events as “completely unacceptable and shocking to many people in this country”.

Asked whether he believed the outgoing president incited the violence and insurrection, he said he had. “Donald Trump did not build a bomb that went off yesterday, he did not build the fuse, but he did light it.”

But unionists in Ireland continued to express their support for the outgoing president, and DUP MP Ian Paisley denied his speech earlier in the day had sparked the mob into riotous action.

“Someone’s always going to look for someone to blame here but I think at the end of the day anyone who follows American politics knows it is a very, very deeply divided society,” he said.

The Dublin government’s Foreign Affairs Minister was in no doubt that Donald Trump ‘clearly incited and encouraged a mob’ to storm Capitol Hill.

He said it was ‘sad and shocking’ to see Washington DC descend into chaos on Wednesday.

The minister said bringing Mr Trump to account is a matter for politicians and leaders in the US, but he did feel the need to call out the US president’s actions ‘honestly and bluntly’.

He said: “Even the most powerful person in the world should not be free from criticism... at a time when he was clearly inciting and encouraging a mob to march on Capitol Hill. I think that’s how the vast majority of people saw it.”

Bu contrast, there was a welcome in Ireland for the decision of Joe Biden to appoint Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh as incoming Secretary of Labour. Mr Walsh is a prominent first-generation Irish American from Conamara in the west of Ireland and is an Irish language speaker.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald expressed her congratulations and described him as “a longtime friend of Ireland and Sinn Féin and the son of Irish immigrants from Galway”.

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