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ASBOs can change perception that 'out of control' O'Connell Street is unsafe

The Dublin City Business Improvement District think ASBOs will improve Dublin’s anti-social behaviour issues, but a Dublin City Councillor said he isn’t convinced.

O'Connell Street, Dublin.
O'Connell Street, Dublin.
Image: Photocall Ireland

DESPITE CRIME RATES in Dublin being relatively low, the perception that O’Connell street and the city centre is a dangerous place is seriously damaging, said Richard Guiney of the Dublin City Business Improvement District, who said anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) will improve the situation.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today following a court ruling yesterday in which an ASBO was imposed on 19-year-old man and where O’Connell Street was described in court as “out of control”, Guiney said that ASBOs have been successful in other cities.

“Figures show that only 74 per cent of people feel safe in Dublin by day and only 35 per cent feel safe at night,” he said, despite crime figures showing that there is only one in a million chance that you will assaulted on O’Connell Street.

Perception

“It is the perception that is damaging to the city and that needs to be changed,” said Guiney.

“There is drug dealing taking place in O’Connell Street – often the sale of prescription drugs and also aggressive forms of begging – this is all adding to peoples’ perception that it is unsafe,” he said.

“Asbos will work,” said Guiney, adding:

I think they can work and that young people to pay attention to them. Research by Susan Fitzgerald from the University of York shows that they are actually beneficial to young people as the ASBO forces them to be removed from the gangs that they are usually hanging around with and removes them from the situation.

He added however, that ASBOs should not be issued in isolation.

“I think for ASBOs to have a lasting impact on both the city and young people, they need to be issued in combination with some other supports. Those given ASBOs should be contacted by supports, where the question of what brought them to this point is asked, so that it can be addressed,” he said.

Guiney said that ASBOs were a workable alternative to jail time, stating that sending someone to jail for a few months with a moderate drug problem will only result in them coming out with a serious drug problem and this will not help to improve things for Dublin.

He added that after discussions with retailers, anti-social behaviour in Dublin had its peaks but that it really was an “ongoing issue”.

He said that it was the “fear factor” that Dublin was unsafe that needed to be addressed, stating that 59 per cent of the people visiting the island of Ireland will visit Dublin at some point. “We need to create a positive image of it,” he said.

‘Out of control’

Dublin City Councillor Ray McAdam of Fine Gael told TheJournal.ie had a mixed opinion about ASBOs but said he totally disagreed with the point that O’Connell Street is out of control.

“I think that ASBOs may work for minor offences and first-time offences, but I think if they are repeat incidences then you should face the penalties,” said McAdam.

He added that an increased police presence of the streets of the capital will help the situation, stating that the gardaí’s Operation Spire around the O’Connell Street area seemed to be working.

McAdam said he agreed with Guiney that in fact it is only a perception that the street is dangerous, stating that crime figures show otherwise. “I’m not sure exclusion orders are the way to go. An increased garda presence will reassure visitors and deter criminals,” he said.

Explainer: Why have just seven ASBOs been issued in Ireland in five years?

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