The US Embassy’s warning to citizens travelling to Ireland is ‘weird’ and ‘bordering on Orwellian’, according to a US law professor living here.
Overnight, the embassy issued a new security alert warning citizens to “exercise good personal security practices” following “a number of recent incidents reported in Irish media”.
The warning urges US tourists to safeguard valuables and refrain from carrying large amounts of cash.
It also encourages them to, “be aware of their surroundings, especially when traveling in unfamiliar places, crowded locations, empty streets, or at night” and to “avoid walking alone, if possible”, especially at nighttime.
It comes after a number of widely-reported violent incidents in Dublin – including one that saw a US tourist left with life-changing injuries after he was attacked by a group of people on Talbot Street.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Maynooth Professor of Law and US citizen Seth Barrett Tillman said the warning is strange.
“I think it was kind of weird to tell you the truth and it bordered on Orwellian,” he said.
“Americans are not naïve people. They know, when they go to American cities and when they go to foreign cities, that crime is a universal problem.
“To tell an American to be vigilant sounds like something out of Animal Farm.”
He said the embassy should simply offer basic advice about how to stay safe in unfamiliar surroundings.
He said it is natural for the embassy to want to “engage in a bit of CYA (Cover Your Ass)", but the warning seemed a little over the top.
Prof Barrett Tillman said an honest conversation about whether or not violent crime is on the rise in Dublin would be very helpful.
“When no information is put out or little information is put out, you are going to see people fill in the gaps on their own,” he said.
“These are people who are doing it for motivated reasons and I think that is very unfortunate.”
The Maynooth professor said some Americans do have a romantic notion of Ireland – but said the warning itself is still patronising to most people thinking of travelling.
“There is a tendency to romanticise what is going home for many people,” he said.
“Coming to Ireland, particularly for people of Irish ethnicity or people who are Joycean or Bloom scholars, you are going to romanticise that there is no denying that.
“But I also think that my fellow American nationals are fairly sophisticated and they know that, when they come out falling down drunk out of a bar in the middle of the night, the incidence of crime and risk goes up.
“Telling an American that is just as patronising as thinking that Ireland is the land of leprechauns.”
Earlier on the show, Ciara called for increased pay for frontline workers including Gardaí to get more officers on the beat.
Prof Barrett Tillman noted that increasing the Garda presence will only have an impact if we also increase sentences for violent crime.
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