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A garda caravan on O'Connell Street Alamy Stock Photo
THE MORNING LEAD

'I never feel safe walking through the city': Your stories about crime in Dublin

We asked readers if they had ever seen or experienced violent crime in the city centre.

THIS WEEK, WE asked readers to get in touch to share their thoughts and experiences about crime and safety in Dublin city centre.

Discussions around safety in the capital have come to the fore in recent days in the wake of several violent assaults.

We asked readers if they had ever seen or experienced violent crime in the city centre or if they felt the scale of the problem has been exaggerated.

We received nearly 60 responses from readers recounting experiences in Dublin. The majority expressed feelings of fear and discomfort in the capital, though some readers did say they feel safe in the city.

Here are some of the stories we heard.

‘I encountered a young American woman who had just been racially abused’

One reader called Declan, who lives in Grand Canal Dock, says that most of the time he feels very safe, but has concerns about “a group of young lads that roam the area”.

“Last week, I encountered a young American woman who had just been racially abused by this group,” he said.

“She was so angry, upset and disbelieving that this could happen to her in Ireland. I told her to call the gardaí and report the incident and she saw no point as, in her words, ‘they would do nothing’.

“Certainly, a greater presence of gardaí on the street would reduce the occurrence of such events and make the ‘lads’ think twice before engaging in such disgusting behaviour.

“They simply feel they can get away with anything. In three years of living in Grand Canal Dock, I have never seen a garda “on the beat” – this has to change.”

‘I’m a Dub and I wouldn’t go to the city centre other than for work’

 

A reader in their mid 30s who works in Dublin city centre often for a utility company said that “on any given day, it’s nearly a given that I will witness some sort of violence and/or crime”.

“I rarely see the gardaí when these incidents occur, which I don’t blame on them as I think they are greatly under-resourced and do not have the visible presence required to deter what happens.

“The younger generation that are openly harassing, intimidating, robbing and attacking people have no fear and I’m not surprised as the judicial system seems to pity and not put them off due to light sentencing regardless of the crime.

“The current discussion is not surprising. What is surprising is the lack of reality from members of government who clearly do not walk or travel the streets of the capital so therefore have no real world experience of the problem.

“I’m a Dub and I wouldn’t go to the city centre other than for work.”

‘My son helped a female friend who was being sexually harassed’

One reader recounted an evening last week when her 14-year-old son came across a female friend of his who was being sexually harassed by three teenagers at a Luas stop in Tallaght.

“He alighted to assist her then got on the opposite direction along with the girl to escort her home. They sat directly behind the Luas driver,” she said.

“This group then followed them on to Luas and harassed them the whole ride, but not before assaulting my child by punching him in the head. There was no security on the line and none bar one other passenger asked my son if he was alright.

“To be honest, I’m conflicted; whilst my son’s actions were admirable, he put himself in danger’s way to protect this young girl. This should never have happened. However, I dread to think what would have happened [to] this girl if he had not stepped in.

“I do not feel it is safe anywhere in Dublin and it is teenagers running the streets. I hate to say it, but their parents must be held accountable for how they are raising their children. Due to them being teenagers/underage, they themselves will not be punished and know this.”

‘The man changed his direction and came right behind me and stopped me’

Jessica is a 28-year-old who works on Henry Street and outlined that was followed four times in the space of three weeks.

“First time, I was coming from the train at around 8.15am walking up Talbot Street in the rain and a man was staring at me whilst walking the other direction near Dunnes,” she said.

“I kept walking and had my earphones in but could sense something was weird, so I took out my earphones. The man had changed his direction and come right behind me and stopped me and said, ‘You have lovely eyes’, so I just politely said, ‘Thank you’, and went to walk on.

“He blocked my path, which caved me in closer to the wall that I couldn’t really move. Luckily, a man across the other side of the road shouted over asking was I okay. I was able to run past and run into a shop. This man for two days after was waiting in the middle of Talbot Street at the exact same time, looking around, which I feel was looking for me or someone else he could make feel the way he made me feel.

“The last time was 23 December. I was heading into work for 9am so it would have been around 8.20. I parked my car and started walking over to the Pro Cathedral. It was lashing rain so I had this ankle-length rain jacket on and I was walking briskly. I had noticed a man come out of the apartments right beside the car park but paid no attention and kept walking.

“The man proceeded to cross the road to the Pro Cathedral and shouted, ‘Hey’, after me. I thought I may have dropped something so I looked around and he was just standing there grinning. I said to him in a more abrupt tone, ‘What?’ He just laughed at me. He aggressively grabbed my shoulder to turn me around fully and I was terrified as the Cathedral Street lane was beside us which I find quite scary and I didn’t know if maybe he was trying to bring me down there as no one was around. I pushed him off me and I ran as fast as I could all the way to work, not knowing if he was behind me or not.

“I have been working in town for around three years and every single day you see something scary, dangerous or threatening. Not that it should make any difference but being a woman (and I would be quite short and petite) it can be so terrifying. I am only trying to go to work and I am fearing for my life, to put it lightly.”

‘I became the victim of a xenophobic attack’

Arthur is a Brazilian who said he has called Ireland home for the past 10 years.

“This country has offered me better opportunities and I cherish the sense of belonging as a queer person. However, on 16 February, my life took a dark turn when I became the victim of a xenophobic attack on High Street at 5pm,” Arthur said.

“A group of teenagers targeted me, throwing stones and expressing their disdain for my presence in their country. One of them even brandished a knife when I protested against the vandalism of my jacket with spray paint. This harrowing incident was captured by CCTV cameras and I immediately reported it to the garda station on Kevin Street, classifying it as a xenophobic attack.

“To my dismay, the authorities labelled it as an assault, disregarding the hateful motives behind the attack. The investigation was promptly closed in March with the excuse of a lack of additional information and the teenagers’ clean records.

“When I inquired about protecting myself in the future, I was advised to fight back, but I am well aware of Ireland’s self-defence laws and the potential consequences for protecting myself against teenagers.”

‘Someone came up to me, pulled a knife out and demanded my phone’

One reader recounted an experience of being punched when they would not give up their phone.

“I personally would not feel safe in Dublin. One incident that comes to mind is the time I was waiting to get the bus home on Dame Street at about 10 or 11pm. I was on my phone when someone came up to me, pulled a knife out and demanded my phone. I didn’t give the phone up so the person punched me in the face,” the reader said.

“At this point I ran away as I didn’t feel like getting stabbed. Reported it to the garda as I thought the Tesco I was standing outside might have CCTV. Never heard anything else about it. Garda attitude was so uninterested and made me feel like I was putting them out having to hear about it.”

‘I love this city – problems and all’

Tríona, who is 45, has lived in Drumcondra for 25 years and described a more positive relationship with the city.

“I regularly walk around Dublin (alone) at all hours of the day and up to about 11pm at night. I am used to seeing drug addicts in Dublin as well as intimidating ‘groups’ of any age and I honestly never feel unsafe. They never pay much attention to me,” Tríona said.

“My regular route down Dorset St and across O’Connell or Dominic St never causes me problems. I also regularly walked to the IFSC areas over the years and again, no issues down the Five Lamps direction or Connolly.

“I have heard often over the years that Talbot St is a nightmare so I also think more needs to be done in terms of crime prevention and Garda visibility in certain areas.

“I love this city and always enjoy my rambles around it – problems and all.”

‘No one would ever stop me from walking in my beloved city’

Pat, aged 76, was “born and raised in inner city”.

“No one would ever stop me from walking in my beloved city, on any day or time. Massive overreaction to one particular incident. How many Irish have been killed or attacked in foreign [cities]? Hysteria, now everyone wants a garda to accompany them to go shopping,” Pat said.

‘The gardaí never showed up’

One reader described a time when they were “walking by Trinity close to Pearse Station earlier this year and a gang of youths, not older than 16, suddenly attacked a man by the bus stop and began kicking and pushing him on the ground”.

“I tried to intervene and was punched and kicked also. They ran off after stealing the man’s phone, so I proceeded to call the gardaí. The man had never seen these youths in his life and wasn’t from Ireland.

“We waited for an hour and a half and the gardaí never showed up, so the man just ordered a taxi home. I’ve lived in Dublin my whole life but it’s genuinely less safe now than it has been in the last decade.”

‘I was robbed in my office by a person pretending he forgot the entry code’

Another reader said they previously worked in a senior position in a Government department in the city centre.

“During that time I was a) spat at by a group of youths as I walked up Talbot St, b) robbed in a local restaurant in Store Street, c) robbed in my office when I went to the bathroom, everything taken, apparently carried out by a person coming in from the street pretending he forgot the entry code and d) robbed by group of youths seen by others in Amiens Street car park overnight. Car broken into.”

‘I always leave by 8pm’

Caroline stated: “I never feel safe walking through the city and always leave by 8pm.”

‘Our daughter, a nurse, was grabbed and pushed against a wall’

One reader outlined an attack on her daughter, a nurse, while she was coming home from a night shift two years ago.

“She got off the bus at the bottom of Talbot Street and was walking towards O’Connell St when she was grabbed and pushed against a wall and had her backpack taken off her back. It was a female and a male that assaulted her. The female had my daughter by the throat and dug her nails in.

“The only thing in the back pack was her nurse’s uniform and ID badge. It was very early on a Saturday morning. They were waiting for someone, anyone. They sicken me.

“She went to the garda station. There were no garda on the street. Nobody was ever arrested, despite the amount of CCTV in the area.

“We picked her up and she was so shaken. We bought her a secondhand car after that so she didn’t have to come home that way again.”

‘Passengers in a car threw a beer bottle at him’

David shared an incident that affected his friend, who was walking along the quays.

“Passengers in a car driving past threw a beer bottle at him and hit him in the eye. He spent a few days to a week in hospital. He was lucky, his vision came back. ‘Freak incident’ – no one prosecuted.”

‘Every week I saw at least one phone snatched’

One reader who got in touch used to work on O’Connell Street at the front of a cinema.

“I’ve been mugged twice in town but besides that I worked on O’Connell Street from 2006-2016 and I was often thrown in situations with violent people. My job would involve refusing entry to a cinema and on many occasions I suffered from panic attacks and anxiety through this period of my life,” they said.

“The guards never came. I would often see tourists and lads on bikes eyeing them up as a victim. I would warn them. Every week I saw at least one phone snatched.

“Town has become more and more run down since then. Lonely Planet and Mumsnet have given rubbish reviews. The city is dying and no one is doing anything. Solution is to fix dereliction and open places for young people. The city needs a children’s museum. The Ambassador needs to become a library.”

‘Glass bottles thrown at us’

Walt compiled a list of experiences while living on an apartment on Cork Street, Dublin 8 from June 2016 to July 2021:

  • “Glass bottles thrown at us by a group of youths
  • Rocks thrown at us by a group of youths
  • Slurs shouted at us by a group of youths
  • Intimidation from a youth with a knife
  • Open drug dealing on a daily basis
  • Group of youths robbing the corner shop
  • Groups of youths breaking into the apartment block across the road and causing damage
  • Youths setting fire to the equipment in the new Weaver Park on Cork Street.”

He said: “All of this just in our immediate area. We’ve had many other incidents in the city.”

‘I feel more unsafe in Dublin than any other Irish city’

Ciara said that she doesn’t live in Ireland anymore but previously lived in Dublin several years ago.

“I have visited Dublin in recent years as a tourist and do not feel safe there,” she said.

“I feel more unsafe in Dublin than any other Irish city and several other European places I have visited.”

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