Three young children and a woman have been injured in what Ireland’s Justice Minister Helen McEntee has described as an “appalling attack” in Dublin city centre.

A man has also been taken to hospital following the incident on Parnell Square East in the north inner-city on Thursday afternoon.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a suspect had been detained.

One of the children, a girl, and a woman have sustained serious injuries in the incident.

A man and the two other children sustained less serious injuries, the Garda said.

A spokesman said the force had been in contact with the parents of the injured children.

The Herald: The scene in Dublin city centre after five people were injuredThe scene in Dublin city centre after five people were injured (Image: PA)

Gardai said they were following a definite line of inquiry and were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident at this time.

Witnesses at the scene reported seeing victims with what appeared to be stab wounds.

Ms McEntee said she was “deeply shocked” by the “appalling attack on three innocent children and a woman”.

She said: “All our thoughts are with those injured, especially with the children, their parents and families, during this extremely difficult period.

“I have been briefed by the Garda Commissioner and will remain in close contact with him and senior Gardai.

“It is my understanding that Gardai are following a definite line of inquiry and are not looking for any other person at this time.

“This attack has shocked us all, and I have no doubt that the person responsible will be brought to justice.”

She added: “However, my thoughts now are with the innocent children and the woman who have been attacked, their families, and those who are caring for them at this time.”

Irish premiere Mr Varadkar said: “We are all shocked by the incident which has taken place in Parnell Square.

“A number of people have been injured, some of them children.

“Our thoughts and our prayers go out to them and their families.

“I have been in contact with the Minister for Justice who is keeping me updated.”

He added: The facts in this matter are still emerging.

“The emergency services responded very quickly and were on site within minutes. I thank them for that.

“Gardai have detained a suspect and are following a definite line of inquiry.”

Irish Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said his thoughts and prayers are with the victims.

He said: “I am aware of an extremely serious incident that has taken place at Parnell Square in my constituency of Dublin Central,” he said.

“My thought and prayers are with the victims of this very serious incident, and their families.

“Anyone with information is being asked to contact Store Street police station.”