Dublin city centre street closed down due to drugs and crime

Council has been unable to control antisocial behaviour in Harbour Court off Abbey Street

Since the city has been unable to control antisocial behaviour in Harbour Court, which runs off Abbey Street behind Wynn's hotel, it will soon be closed off. Video: Chris Maddaloni

A Dublin city centre back street is being closed off to the public due to persistent drug use, antisocial behaviour and illegal dumping which Dublin City Council says it has been unable to control.

Harbour Court runs between Marlborough Street, opposite the Abbey Theatre, Abbey Street Lower, at the side of Wynns Hotel, and Eden Quay. It is particularly used as a pedestrian link from the quays to Abbey Street.

Councillors on Monday night agreed the closure of the lane which had been requested by local businesses more than a decade ago.

Independent councillor Christy Burke said the lane had been used to plan the Dublin riots late last year. “It’s not safe for men, women or children,” he said. “This is where the gangs and the groups formed in the Dublin riots in O’Connell Street in November. This is where they planned and congregated.”


The closure was necessary “because we don’t have the ability to police the area properly”, Sinn Féin councillor Janice Boylan said. “This laneway is an absolute disaster zone. I used to walk through it when I was younger. I wouldn’t walk through that lane, even in the day now. I would walk the long way around because I just would not feel safe walking through that lane.”

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Independent councillor Cieran Perry said he was reluctantly supporting the closure because the lane covered a “huge area” and permeability of the city would be compromised. However he said: “We can’t police or enforce our anti-drug dealing laws in the main streets of Dublin so we certainly can’t enforce it in laneways. So until we are in a position that we can, I feel I have no choice but to support the closure of such lanes.”

Green Party councillor Janet Horner said she was “very strongly against” the closure. “We have not looked at other options for the Abbey Street area,” she said. “Everyone knows there are significant issues with the behaviour around Harbour Court but closing laneways that offer permeability, that offer the opportunity for people to move more comfortably around the city without having a more comprehensive set of ideas on how we can lift up the city is really regressive in my opinion.”

Green Party councillor Hazel Chu said other options for the city’s lanes needed to be considered which could deter their use for antisocial behaviour. “Councillor Burke has suggested this is where the riots started. The riots started online,” she added.

The council’s executive manager, Karl Mitchell, said the decision had not been taken lightly. “The reason for this extinguishment is due to antisocial behaviour. It is regularly used for intravenous drug use and is littered with needles and other drug paraphernalia. Also it has become a location for illegal dumping,” he said. “The behaviour has become untenable… a mural or lighting will not fix this lane at the moment, it’s a bigger issue.”

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Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times