Far more people find Dublin unsafe now than in 2016, surveys show

Perception of public safety lowest late and overnight, with 61 per cent feeling unsafe on south side and 73 per cent on north side

Assistant Commissioner for Dublin Metropolin Region Angie Willis; Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe; Chief Superintendent Patrick McMenamin; and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee: Crime fears have risen following high-profile attacks. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Perceptions of public safety have deteriorated significantly in Dublin in recent years, with that decline under way long before the pandemic began in early 2020 and having continued since then, research shows.

Studies commissioned by business representative group Dublin Town reveal the sharpest falls in perceptions of safety in the city centre occurred between 2016 and the start of 2020.

Fears about crime in Dublin have been heightened in recent weeks following high-profile attacks in the city. Two weeks ago Minister for Justice Helen McEntee unveiled a €10 million top-up budget for Garda overtime in Dublin to the remainder of the year in a bid to boost Garda patrols.

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Richard Guiney, chief executive of Dublin Town, said perceptions of safety were at their highest in 2016, according to polling it commissioned annually from Red C, but conditions has “slipped” since then. That high point seven years ago had coincided with a number of specialist Garda operations in Dublin, including Operation Pier which specifically targeted street drugs, he added.


The latest Red C poll was taken in May and involved over 509 respondents. While 74 per cent of people felt safe in north central Dublin during the day in 2016, that was down to 55 per cent in May of this year. In south central Dublin, the corresponding poll results were 91 per cent feeling safe during the day in 2016 compared to 72 per cent this year.

In the afternoon-evening time, 51 per cent of people in north central Dublin felt safe in 2016 and 81 per in south central Dublin. This was down to 35 per cent and 57 per cent respectively in May of this year.

In 2016, 24 per cent of people felt safe at night time in north central Dublin and 50 per cent in south central Dublin; this was down to 15 per cent and 27 per cent respectively in May of this year.

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Overall, the latest poll found that people feel safer at all times in south central Dublin, where seven in 10 feel safe during the day, six in 10 during the evening and just over a quarter during the night. In north central Dublin, those rates of feeling safe drop to just over a half feeling safe during the day, a third during the evening and a sixth during the night.

The lowest perception of public safety was late at night and overnight, with 61 per cent of people feeling unsafe on the south side and 73 per cent on the north side.

In response to questions about worsening perceptions of safety in Dublin and what could be done to address the situation, Dublin City Council said the issues raised were “not a matter” for the council.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times