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Time to reclaim our Dublin streets from thuggish acts of violence

Walk down any Dublin city street sober on a Saturday night and you will at some point be worried about your personal safety.

IT WAS A bloody attack. Father-of-two Dafydd Hughes was standing with his children, sister and a number of relatives in broad daylight on O’Connell Street. They had arrived in Dublin Airport less than two hours earlier and were already soaking up Ireland’s famous hospitality. He was then introduced to something we have all experienced – a disheveled thug under the influence of drugs and alcohol behaving aggressively.

“Why are you smiling?” the lowlife said to him in a threatening manner. “You won’t be smiling when I gouge your eye out with this bottle.”

Holiday into a nightmare

Moments later, Hughes’ holiday had turned into a nightmare as he stood on O’Connell Street with his head slashed open and clothes drowned in his own blood.

He was not the first nor sadly will he be the last tourist to get a taste of the dark side of Dublin. Google “tourists assaulted in Ireland” and the long list of returns will shock you.

In May, US tourist Ryan Dillon had only been in the country a few short hours when a group of knife-wielding thugs savagely attacked him and his girlfriend in a park in Swords, as her 80-year-old grandmother looked on.

Dublin’s dark underbelly

And it is not just tourists. Most people in Dublin will have either personally encountered an unprovoked assault or will know a friend, colleague or relative that has had an encounter with Dublin’s dark underbelly.

Unlike other capital cities in Europe and America, you don’t necessarily have to be walking in a so-called bad neighbourhood. It can happen on O’Connell Street or Grafton Street, Talbot Street or Dame Street, Northside or Southside.

It seems our thugs are not post-code conscious when it comes to their random acts of terror. And it is terror they are dishing out on a nightly basis on the streets in our capital.


It is important to remember that only a tiny fraction of these assaults are visible through action by the courts and reportage in the press.

The vast majority remain unreported and do not show up in crime statistics. This is allowing the thugs to win.

Walk down O’Connell Street, Dame Street or take a stroll around Temple Bar on a sober Saturday night and you will at some point be worried about your personal safety. With most late night revelers wrapped in a warm and fuzzy blanket of intoxication, the majority don’t realise this until it is too late.

Random foul-mouthed abuse, punches and kicks are common. Some are unluckier and end up getting beaten up, with others dying on our city’s streets or on hospital beds after such horrific, unprovoked encounters.

Journalist Eugene Moloney became one such horrible statistic after he was struck in the head, unprovoked by a complete stranger, and died as a result in 2012.

Reclaim the streets

This has to stop. We have to reclaim our city streets and stop the dark underbelly of violence bubbling up from the sewers to wreak havoc with people’s lives and enjoyment of our capital city.

The gardaí have to do more. The government and city councillors have to do more. The courts have to do more. We all have to do more.

We can no longer, as citizens, walk past and think this is someone else’s problem to clean up.

We don’t need “have-a-go heroes” patrolling the streets, but we do need the average citizen to take responsibility and report aggressive behaviour, video or photograph thugs – and ensure gardaí are made aware of these incidents.

Paul Allen is managing director of Paul Allen and Associates PR. Follow his blog here.

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