Saturday, March 2, 2024

Dublin riot: Business group seeks more gardaí on the streets, safe taxi hubs and crackdown on young offenders

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An increased Garda presence in Dublin, a crackdown on youth offenders, more 24-hour public transport and safe taxi hubs are among proposals made to Government by a business representative group in the wake of a riot that occurred last November.

Dozens of people were arrested as significant damage was caused to businesses and public transport vehicles in the city centre on the night of November 23rd last.

Dublin Town, the city’s business improvement organisation, complied a four-point plan on the “challenges” facing the capital, with a summary sent to Minister of State with responsibility for retail Neale Richmond in December. It was released to The Irish Times by the Department of Enterprise under the Freedom of Information Act.

It says the events of the night of November 23rd “brought into sharp focus issues which have beleaguered Dublin city centre for some time”.

The document highlights issues in the city and contains proposed solutions under four headings: Safety; Transport and Access; Regeneration; and Waste Collection.

“The core issue to be addressed is the fact that people do not feel safe in Dublin city centre,” it says.

Among the proposed solutions is a call for increased Garda presence with the document saying “the post-23rd November Garda presence quickly resolved many public safety concerns”.

The document also says “post-pandemic, Dublin in line with peer cities has experienced challenging behaviour from groups of juveniles” and “it would appear that some are not taking advantage or the opportunities available to them through the [Garda] Juvenile Liaison programme”.

It says there is a need to address this behaviour and “this may require custodial sentences for repeat and serious offences”.

The document says “city businesses are concerned with the number of cases where they and their staff have been terrorised by individuals who reappear on the street shortly after being detained” by gardaí.

It adds: “There is a strong sense that many repeat offenders feel above the law and that potential punishments are not acting as a deterrent.”

In relation to transport, Dublin Town notes the success of 24-hour bus routes and says this should be broadened to include all transport modes. It also suggests that “car parks could be used at night as taxi hubs with security and lighting where people can wait for taxis with a greater degree of safety”.

Under regeneration, Dublin Town identifies Talbot Street as an area that “has one of the lowest perceptions of safety”. It suggests arts initiatives can be used to help regenerate the area saying this has happened elsewhere internationally. One idea is that artists’ studios could be created in the upper floors of buildings with galleries and craft shops at street level.

It says the current waste collection regime is not working and “the feasibility of the council becoming active in waste collection again should be considered”.

Dublin Town chief executive Richard Guiney told The Irish Times engagement with the Government has been “very good”, that some of the things the group outlined “would be ambitious” and need a multi-agency approach including State support for pilot projects.

He said there is greater Garda visibility than was the case before November.

On custodial sentences for juveniles, he said “nobody wants to jail young people without due cause” and that they should get “more than a second chance”. However, he said that behaviour like racial abuse of shop staff is “not acceptable”.

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