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Complaints over high-pitched mosquito alarm on O'Connell Street

DCC has received complaints around the noise which comes from an office building.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has written to the owners of a building on O’Connell Street following complaints of a loud, high-pitched noise bothering passers-by in the area.

A high-pitched alarm sound – which was installed to ward off anti-social behaviour in the area – can be heard outside a number of buildings on O’Connell Street Upper, next to the Spire.

TheJournal.ie confirmed that the device was installed by the managers of a shared office building at nos 65/66.

A spokesperson for Premier Business Centres – which rents out office space to different companies in the building – confirmed that the alarm had been installed to try to stop drug dealing in the doorway.

A number of different businesses operate out of this building, which for years housed the Standard Life Assurance company. More recently the ground floor was converted into the Coco Bó chocolate cafe, which closed earlier this year.

“Unfortunately, there was drug dealing going on in the area,” the Premier Business Centres spokesperson said.

IMG_20171005_121840 The device in the doorway of the building. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

Mosquito alarm

The device in question matches the profile of a “mosquito alarm” – a device used to ward off anti-social behaviour in an area, particularly among younger people.

Mosquito alarms emit noise at a high frequency, which on a certain setting is supposed to be only heard by people below a certain age group (but can be adjusted so that all age groups hear it).

As a person ages, their hearing generally deteriorates, which means that noises emitted at a certain frequency can mostly only be heard by a younger age group.

The noise on O’Connell Street is similar in that it cannot be heard by everyone in the vicinity.

When questioned over whether the device was legal to use, the Premier Business Centres spokesperson said that it wasn’t illegal “that they were aware of”.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department pointed towards Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997, which sets out the offence of assault.

Under this heading, “noise” is listed as one of the classifications of assault.

“We are advised that An Garda Síochána will fully investigate any complaints from members of the public regarding the use of such devices, with a view to seeking directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions,” the Justice Department spokesperson said.

IMG_20171004_080004 Nos 65/66 O'Connell Street. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

Busy area

The area in question is close to the Spire and sees a lot of footfall every day. The building is just metres away from a busy bus stop for the Nos 40, 120 and 122 buses.

TheJournal.ie spoke to people waiting at the bus stop about the noise earlier this week.

One elderly man – standing at the building – said that he could not hear any high-pitched noise. A young woman nearby said she heard the noise regularly when she was waiting for the bus.

“It’s really annoying,” she said.

Dublin City Council confirmed that it had received two complaints so far in relation to the noise to its Air Quality Monitoring and Noise Control Unit.

On the back of these, the council sent an officer to take noise level readings.

IMG_20171004_163754 People walking on O'Connell Street near to where the noise is emitting. Source: Cormac Fitzgerald/TheJournal.ie

A spokesperson said that while the readings did not indicate that the noise was being emitted from a traditional mosquito alarm, the council has written to the owners to raise the issue with them.

“Noise level readings were taken directly in front of the premises and a hum was audible in the vicinity,” a spokesperson said.

“The readings obtained did not indicate the noise was emanating from a mosquito alarm as there was not a distinct spike in the frequencies that  such devices typically operate at,” the spokesperson said.

On the basis of these results there is not sufficient grounds to instigate further enforcement action. Dublin City Council has written to the owners of the property to bring this matter to their attention and a response is awaited.
The spokesperson said that it would be a matter of speculation to attribute the noise to a specific type of device.

“The usual approach with these  cases is to have the property owners deactivate various devices and systems in turn while we are in attendance and only then is it possible to make a definitive determination on the source,” they said.

Read: New traffic measures on Dublin’s quays have been in place for a month, but are they working?

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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