Dublin riots: Escalating cost of unrest could ‘run to €20m’

Following chaotic night efforts ongoing to restore transport links, while council crews remove debris

The cost of repair, clean-up and lost business following Thursday’s riots is expected to run to as much as €20 million, according to the head of Dublin City Council, based on early estimates and discussions with representative groups.

On Friday evening, almost 24 hours after the outbreak of violence, efforts were still under way to restore transport links while council crews had cleaned away debris, repaired road surfaces and removed scattered commercial waste, some of which had been used to start fires.

It took Transdev, the Luas operators, 4½ hours to tow-push the burned-out tram on O’Connell Street to the Broombridge depot, while crews continued to test collapsed power lines.

“[I have] disgust with those absolute thugs and from our perspective we stay in our lane; our job is to keep the city moving and get it up and running,” said council acting chief executive Richard Shakespeare.


“From listening to the restaurateurs and the hotels and the Dublin Chamber … it wouldn’t surprise me if it ran to €10, €20 million. That would be mainly business damage, business loss.”

Having initially been withdrawn from the city at the height of the disorder, council cleaning crews resumed work at about 3am on Friday, and at 5am 134 additional staff were deployed to assist.

Initial operations were focused on O’Connell Bridge, once the remnants of incinerated public transport vehicles had been safely removed. Mr Shakespeare described the road on the north side of the bridge as “smouldering”.

Maintenance crews undertook an assessment of burnt surfaces which had led to structural damage. By lunchtime only the southbound lane of O’Connell Street had been reopened, meaning bus routes heading north continued to be diverted.

Adjoining streets were also affected, including Middle Abbey Street where a burned-out Garda squad car was removed. Most affected commercial premises were open by around midday.

“The money [required to fund the clean-up] doesn’t particularly concern me,” said Mr Shakespeare. “It’s more the long-term reputational damage that this has the potential to do.”

Early on Friday, Transdev staff were faced with the task of removing a burned tram and relocating others stalled due to a lack of power.

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The damaged tram was initially pushed by a self-powered rail vehicle to Parnell Street where another tram, connected to functioning power lines, began the protracted job of tow-pushing it to Broombridge with Garda assistance at junctions.

On Friday afternoon and evening, technicians were continuing to repair and test overhead lines in the loop section between Westmorland and Dominick Street stops. Although there were plans to resume services by Saturday morning, a spokeswoman explained that was entirely dependent on the success of power restoration.

Six trams that remained in the city centre as a consequence of service disruption would also have to be serviced before they could be used again, she said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times