Al fresco diners harassed by beggars – Restaurant Association

Not all begging the same – Focus Ireland

New legislation in February 2011 made aggressive begging an offence liable for prosecution

New legislation in February 2011 made aggressive begging an offence liable for prosecution

Wed, Aug 13, 2014, 01:00

Tourists dining “al fresco”are being harassed by aggressive beggars, the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has said.

The association has supported calls for a greater level of enforcement against persistent and organised beggars operating in Dublin city centre.

New legislation in February 2011 made aggressive begging an offence liable for prosecution, but the chief executive of city business organisation DublinTown Richard Guiney said the law was not being enforced.

Chief executive of the RAI, Adrian Cummins said urgent action was needed to address the escalating “crisis” of aggressive and often organised begging which makes tourists feel unsafe in the city centre.

“There has been a reduction in Garda numbers. This has increased the difficulty of policing our streets at a time when greater Garda visibility in the city centre is needed,” Mr Cummins said.

Drug rehabilitation clinics and homeless shelters “saturate” the city centre and 83 per cent of tourists contacting the Irish Tourist Assistance Service were victims of crime or other incidents in Dublin, he said.

“Drug dealing and consumption in the city needs to be stamped out with a zero tolerance policy as countless tourists get harassed by aggressive beggars.”

Help those in need

Focus Ireland advocacy manager Roughan Mac Namara said people begging must not all be tarred with the same brush.

“If someone is begging and aggressive that is not acceptable and it’s a public order issue and it needs to be dealt with in that way by the gardaí.

“However, we need to also be careful that we don’t move towards a situation where people who are genuinely forced into begging are being criminalised and swept under the carpet rather than helped by society.”