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writing on the wall

€1 million spent on graffiti removal in Dublin city every year - but it's not disappearing fast

The south east area of the city received the most complaints about graffiti every year.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL (DCC) may spend €1million a year in graffiti removal, but it’s not going away anytime soon.

Numerous attempts have been made to combat “tagging,” as it is called, such as anti-graffiti surfaces or street art installments in heavily-affected areas.

While everything is put under the umbrella term of “graffiti”, according to artists the term denotes a style of art rather than being another word for vandalism.

Recent figures released by DCC under the Freedom of Information Act show that roughly €1million is spent by the council on graffiti removal throughout the city each year. This can include any art in the public eye which hasn’t been commissioned or approved by the council.

This is broken down into around €700,000 for direct labour provision and around €300,000 for corporate contract costs each year.

The south central area saw the most spent in corporate contract costs in 2014 (over €85,000). However, the north central area consistently had the highest expenditure from 2015 onwards, with €80,000 in both 2015 and 2016, and €35,000 up to June 2017.

While the north central area had the highest total corporate contract costs for the period, with €275,000, the central area had the least with just over €128,000.

In terms of complaints about graffiti, the south east area council received the most, with 923 over the time period. The north central area council, in comparison, received 689 – a difference of 234.

The least amount of complaints came from the central and south central areas, which were 284 and 285 respectively over the time period.

Public reception

As a Dublin-based graffiti artist who paints commissioned installments, both public and private, Niall O’Lochlainn feels that despite the figures, public reception of his art is changing.

He references a piece he painted in Ballybough with other local artists, and how many who walked by commended the artists’ efforts.

“There’s definitely a more understanding view,” he says, and it’s now getting to the stage where people see spray paint as “the same as a paintbrush”.

DCC has used installments such as the one in Ballybough to combat extensive tagging in the past, and there is currently a legal graffiti wall surrounding the Bernard Shaw pub in the city centre. To Niall, however, no legal walls or installments are going to change the core essence of tagging.

“It’s more people like me that like the legal walls,” he says. “Some people are addicted to tagging… so, legal walls aren’t the solution for them.”

He feels tagging isn’t going to stop any time soon, and though he appreciates the artistic side of it, “there are definitely elements of disrespect in it, maybe more so than there are elements of art.”

Niall appreciates the artistic qualities enough to overlook this disrespect, and he says:

I’m glad tagging exists, in a way, because I love it. I love getting the DART and seeing everything go past; it’s inspiring.

In saying that, “it’s definitely an eyesore in spots”.

In a response, DCC said:

In an initiative to combat tagging in the city, DCC launched its Graffiti is a Crime, Think Don’t Tag campaign in February 2017.
DCC, in partnership with An Garda Síochána, teamed up with Cork animator Andrew James to produce a video and poster campaign raising awareness, particularly among a younger age group, that tagging is a criminal activity. The video was shown in Dublin cinemas over a six-week period after the launch.
The video was shown for another six-week period beginning in mid-August, and will be promoted in some Dublin schools from the start of the school year.

Read: Locals angry anti-graffiti paint wasn’t used on new cycle bridge that has already been vandalised>

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Fiachra McDermott
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