The perception that Dublin city centre is “deserted with tumbleweed blowing through it” is unfounded, the Garda Commissioner has said.
Drew Harris said he “recognises” people’s concerns about crime but feels the capital is being inaccurately portrayed.
“I’ve made it my business to be in the city in the evening time over the last number of weeks as all this has broken,” Commissioner Harris told The Pat Kenny Show.
“On O’Connell Street, there's a huge footfall [with people] walking about the streets.
“So, the image of a city which is deserted with tumbleweed blowing through it is incorrect.”
Concerns have been repeatedly raised in recent years about the safety of O’Connell Street but Commissioner Harris described it as “vibrant” and full of life.
“On Tuesday evening last week, for instance, I was surprised, actually, by the number of people about enjoying the city,” he said.
“A lot of tourists, obviously, moving about.
“People, obviously, felt comfortable moving about our city centre.”
When asked about drug crime in the city centre, Commissioner Harris said there is a “very substantial amount of police work going on”.
“I would point to the number of arrests that we made this year for possession for sale and supply - they’re up 24%,” he said.
“Some 2,653 arrests for the first six months of the year - that shows where our concentration is on, it’s on street level dealing.”
He also said new legislation going through the Oireachtas would further improve the safety of people who live in and visit the inner city.
“What I would point to is the new Community Safety Bill and the involvement of other agencies,” he said.
“In effect, we are dealing with one side of this problem in turns of how it manifests itself on the street.
“I do think there are longer-term solutions around addiction and services for those who are addicted to alcohol and drugs.”
The CSO reported that in the first three months of 2023, the number of homicides and related offences increased by 28% compared to the final quarter of 2022.
By comparison, reported cases of fraud, deception and other related cases dropped by 41%.
Main image: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews