GARDAI investigating an attack on an Asian woman at the Royal Canal at the weekend believe those responsible are as young as 12.
It’s understood officers know the identities of the gang of youths who pushed Shelly Xiong into the water in what they describe as a “racially motivated incident”.
Ms Xiong, who lives in Castleknock, said she was out for a walk on the canal when the teens started to racially abuse her, yelling the word coronavirus over and over.
She said: “I went after them and asked them to stop. Apparently three groups merged together, or they had more people.
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“Then when I asked them to stop and told them this is racial discrimination and it is criminal, they pushed me down into the canal.”
Ms Xiong said it was not the first time she had been racially abused and she felt sad to hear those words coming from children.
A video of last Friday night’s incident was widely shared on social media, prompting a backlash from politicians and members of the public.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said on Twitter that it should not take bravery to go for an evening walk and “we should all be ashamed this happened to Ms Xiong”.
Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu called for increased garda efforts into preventing racially motivated crimes.
She said: “Anyone being verbally abused like that, fair play to them for standing up to it. But I also think that is the job of the bystanders as well. If you see it you call it out.”
Meanwhile safety concerns have emerged over the new €9 million Royal Canal cycle path in Dublin’s north inner city after users reported intimidating and threatening behaviour along the route.
The recently opened 750m path runs from an existing path linking the Liffey quays to Sheriff Street, to Newcomen bridge at the North Strand. Work will begin next year to extend the path along the canal to Ashtown.
Several cyclists and pedestrians have told of having to leave the route after encountering gangs of teenage boys throwing rocks and blocking their path.
Kieran Ryan of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said it was vital that the issue was addressed quickly so it does not jeopardise the development of the rest of the canal greenway.