Delivery riders complain of serial assaults in Dublin city

Workers and representatives make claims of being routinely targeted and feel grievances not taken seriously

Dublin delivery rider Alex Ressatto, who along with other riders, has experienced an increase in crimes. Photograph: Enda O'Dowd/The Irish Times

Food delivery riders across Dublin daily are victims of assaults, bicycle theft and other crimes, a group of the workers told gardaí at a meeting on Wednesday evening.

Riders and their representatives said they are routinely targeted and feel their complaints are not taken seriously. Several said they no longer reported thefts or assaults as it meant additional loss of earnings with little hope of their bicycles being recovered or any prosecutions.

Garda Insp Alan McDevitt and Sgt Colleen Doherty met about a dozen of the riders at the meeting, which was also attended by the English Language Schools Union (ELSU), a representative of the Brazilian embassy and several Dublin city councillors.

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The exchange followed assaults against riders, many of whom are English language students, and a related protest by them at the weekend.

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At the gathering of drivers in Dublin, many claimed that little attention is paid to the problems they encounter. Among those in attendance were Bolivian workers who were assaulted in Temple Bar on Friday night by a man with a knife and bottle. One of the victims, Daniel, showed the injury to his back he had sustained in the incident.

Food delivery riders across Dublin daily are victims of assaults, bicycle theft and other crimes.

The cuts were only superficial, according to another of the riders, Alejandro Ortez, because they routinely wear three layers of clothing which had acted as protection.

“It’s a surprise,” he said. “I’m from Bolivia and I feel more secure in my country. I don’t know if it’s because they want to steal from us or they are racist, but I never experienced this situation in my life.”

Alex Ressatto, from Curitiba in Brazil, said crime was a routine challenge for riders and that he had been a victim on many occasions since he arrived in the Republic five months ago.

“Sometimes people throw bottles or stones or hit your bag to knock you over … for them, it just seems to be fun,” he said. He told the meeting that in recent days somebody had thrown water over him as he collected food from a branch of KFC. His initial fear, he said, had been that it might be acid.

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Bicycle theft was another problem highlighted with Debora Santana, also from Brazil, telling gardaí that somebody had attempted to steal her bike in Portobello earlier in the day. When asked if there were particular areas where crimes were more likely, she and the rest of the group began to list off many parts of the centre city and several suburbs.

They said where theft was involved they needed a speedy response from gardaí as many of the bikes, often electric and expensive, had tags fitted but that these would be removed within a short period of time.

Fiachra Ó Luain of ELSU said there was a fear that further problems might arise when riders sought to retrieve the bikes themselves.

Insp McDevitt said he could not promise an immediate response as “serious things happen and we have to prioritise”. But he told the meeting he appreciated that the bikes were their livelihood and understood the other concerns being expressed.

He was happy to be meeting the riders and that he would look to ensure it was built upon with more interaction between the force and workers.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times