More Gardaí are needed in Dublin to tackle the “open criminality” that has become increasingly common since the pandemic, Jim O’Callaghan has said.
A recent spate of violent crime in the capital has sparked debate about how the city can be made safer for those who live in and visit it.
Deputy O’Callaghan, who serves as Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson, told The Hard Shoulder politicians have to be honest about the city’s problems.
“I think certain parts of Dublin are unsafe at certain times of the day and night,” he said.
“I also think another problem we have is that in parts of Dublin, open criminality is visible - whether that’s drug dealing down by the quays or physical fights between people involved in drug dealing.
“That’s something that’s apparent.
“So, I don’t want to overstate the issue but I think it’s important that we describe the extent of the issue because unless we describe what we’re trying to deal with, we won’t be able to get a solution.”
The Dublin Bay South TD said the issue has been around for years but that the pandemic has made things worse.
“I think it’s something that manifested itself after COVID to an even greater extent than before,” he said.
“But also we have a big issue with drug addiction in the city.”
He said “putting our heads in the sand” was not a solution and that solution was more Gardaí out on the beat.
“I’m not being critical of the Gardaí but if there was a greater visibility there, then there’d be two effects,” he said.
“You’d find that individuals would be hesitant about openly engaging in criminal activity if there was a police presence.
“Secondly, people who are coming into the city and live in the city, they’re entitled to enjoy the city without being exposed to ongoing open criminality.
“If they see a Garda presence there, it’ll add to their sense of safety and security.”
For many years after the recession, there was a freeze on public sector recruitment and Deputy O’Callaghan said the number of Gardaí was not enough for Ireland’s current population.
“We’ve 13,800 members of An Garda Síochána at present,” he said.
“That’s the same as it was 20 years ago when we had 1.2 million less population… If we get more Garda recruits, we’ll be able to get more on the streets and it’ll add to the sense of security and add to the act of deterrent.”
Earlier this month, the Government announced a €10 million funding boost for Garda overtime in Dublin.
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Main image: Jim O'Callaghan and a Garda.