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Homeless tents 'add to perception' that Dublin is unsafe city - Owen Keegan

The head of Dublin City Council has suggested homeless tents around the capital add to a 'percept...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.57 16 Aug 2021


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Homeless tents 'add to perception' that Dublin is unsafe city - Owen Keegan


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.57 16 Aug 2021


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The head of Dublin City Council has suggested homeless tents around the capital add to a 'perception' that the city is unsafe.

Owen Keegan was speaking after independent councillor Mannix Flynn branded a boardwalk in Dublin city centre a 'complete no-go area'.

He was speaking after Irish Olympian Jack Woolley was injured in a 'random attack' in the city over the weekend.

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The Taekwondo star underwent surgery on his face, after he was punched by a man apparently involved in a fight on the boardwalk.

He says he saw a gang of eight to 12 people in their 20s violently attacking people - noting that when he was hit, his attacker said: "My mistake wrong person" before fleeing the scene.

Mr Keegan told The Hard Shoulder anti-social behaviour is a concern.

"I think to be honest it's a very legitimate concern.

"I think the Gardaí will probably say that, objectively, Dublin city is very safe in comparison with other city centres.

"But I think probably more important is the perception, and I think there is a real perception issue.

"It's not just the frequency of media reports of lone individuals being attacked, but we've had evidence of groups of young people, congregating, drinking and causing a whole lot of low-level anti-social behaviour.

"So I think all that adds up and creates a perception that Dublin isn't a family friendly place or friendly for women.

"And I think that's something we have to be very concerned about."

He adds: "It's the perception that matters, and if people feel that it's unsafe that's enough".

'Edginess about the city'

And he suggests young people drinking, and homeless people sleeping in tents, are adding to this.

"There are other aspects, like the proliferation of tents - and I'll get into trouble for saying this - but we don't think people should be allowed sleep in tents when there's an abundance of supervised accommodation in hostels.

"We've had up to 100/150 beds available every night for homeless people, and we would have thought that it's not unreasonable that in those situations, if you're homeless, you'd go into a professionally managed hostel."

However Mr Keegan says there is "massive pressure" to allow people to camp on the street.

"And that adds to that perception of an edginess about the city".

Asked about those who may not feel safe - or have other reasons - to not be in a hostel, he says: "I think being out on the street in a tent is, objectively, is much less safe than being in a professionally managed hostel.

"There is an issue that if you're in a hostel, which is a congregated setting, there has to be some limits on your behaviour - and some people find that very challenging.

"I still think you're better off in there, where you can access services in a much safer environment than being out on the street."

He adds that the council's policy of removing such tents is "not very popular, but we do it because we don't believe it's appropriate.

"But there's a whole industry out there about sustaining what we believe is a very unsafe and inferior form of accommodation for homeless people".

Asked who is encouraging this, he says: "There's a whole lot of well-intended groups providing service and delivering services on the street.

"Our view is that people are better off accessing services in a controlled environment, where there is a full range of professional service."

Homeless tents 'add to perception' that Dublin is unsafe city - Owen Keegan

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Main image: Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan speaking in Newstalk studios in Dublin. Picture by: Newstalk

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Anti-social Behaviour Assault Boardwalk Dublin Dublin City Centre Homeless Tents Jack Woolley Mannix Flynn Owen Keegan

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