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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Is a new Garda unit needed to clean up Dublin?

“Tourists are walking our main streets and there’s no gardaí to be found. They’re terrified.”


“Tourists are walking our main streets and there’s no gardaí to be found. They’re terrified.”

A MEETING IN Dublin’s Skylon Hotel last week told a tale of a capital city that many do not feel safe in.

Local residents from Finglas, Drumcondra and Glasnevin told stories about burglaries, petty thefts, blatant drug dealing and anti-social behaviour. They also expressed concern about slow Garda response times.

One woman said that she hadn’t seen a Garda in her area in six months. One resident said they had lived on their street for 45 years and “hadn’t seen anything like this”. A woman described having her bag stolen at mass, an elderly woman was burgled when she went to the shop and a man talked about being attacked in a hospital.

That is not to suggest that the streets are flooded with lawless bandits. In fact, in 2014′s first two quarters, crime in Dublin’s two inner-city regions was more or less commensurate with 2013. Public order offences fell from 720 in the first three months of 2013 to 672 in the second quarter of 2014 in the south.

In the north, they fell from 545 in the second quarter of 2013 to 367 in the second quarter of 2014.  Disorderly conduct offences saw similar falls.

In 2013 as a whole, many crimes, and crime as a whole dropped in Dublin.

But there is no question that crime is more prevalent in Dublin’s inner city than in the outer environs of the capital. This map from cartographer Muiris de Buitleír shows just that.

crime-8-630x487 Source: For a full-size map, click here.

And that is what is at the heart of the worry from those in Drumcondra. That the inner city is a magnet for anti-social behaviour and is to quote one person at the meeting “over run with crime”.

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins who spoke at the meeting says the city needs to be cleaned up. He called for a public order unit for Dublin, distinct from the public order unit, that many know as the riot squad.

“Dubliners should not be expected to just accept this. It is time that decisive action was taken to tackle the crime crisis in the capital.”

“Gardaí are under serious pressure and they simply don’t have the manpower or support that they used to have.  It’s a vicious cycle that’s spiralling out of control.”


An operation led out of Store Street on Dublin’s northside, Operation Spire, has been reaping rewards.  It was aimed at cleaning up the O’Connell Street area in time for the 1916 centenary celebrations, tackling drug dealing and street crime.

Since its inception, local traders say that footfall has increased up to 30%. Garda sources say that these operations can empower gardaí and allow them to “feel like you’re getting something done”.

A similar operation has seen a public safety team begin supporting gardaí in the Temple Bar area, with a specific focus on teen gangs and tackling public consumption of alcohol.

dj-hardwell-concerts-3-390x285 Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

A Garda spokesperson says that local gardaí constantly monitor the provision of resources across the city.

“The local Superintendent constantly monitors issues that arise in his area of responsibility such as crime, public order and traffic and he will direct the appropriate resources to deal with these issues.”

The Department of Justice says that allocation of gardaí is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, but in November, Frances Fitzgerald said that the idea isn’t being investigated because the current system is working.

“When one examines exactly what is happening in policing in the Dublin area, one will see that the number of public order offences is down by 7% in the south central, Pearse Street, area and 19% in the Store Street area.

“I see these figures as reflecting a broad positive trend.

“[A public order unit] is already in place and is put into operation when the need arises.

The members of the unit are highly skilled and trained to deal with public order incidents of all gravity, up to and including riots, and are located throughout the Dublin metropolitan region.

“A dedicated public order patrol van is deployed from Pearse Street and Bridewell Garda stations every Friday and Saturday night to deal with public order issues in the city centre.”

Read: Teens arrested after men assaulted near Luas stop

Read: Public order offences down in Dublin as gardaí target drunks and ‘aggressive begging’

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