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Dublin publican puts up €20,000 gate at city laneway after drug use, assaults and dumping

Parnell Place a magnet for drugs and crime, claims Gary O’Reilly

A Dublin publican has shut down an inner city laneway by erecting gates at a cost of €20,000 because of persistent drug use, assaults and illegal dumping.

Gary O’Reilly of O’Reilly’s bar on Parnell Street mounted the 1.8m-high vehicular and pedestrian gates at Parnell Place this month after, he said, years of inaction over crime in the laneway.

The move follows the decision by Dublin City Council earlier this year to close Harbour Court, a laneway running between Abbey Street, Eden Quay and Marlborough Street, that was also a magnet for drug use and illegal dumping.

Mr O’Reilly has operated the pub for 18 years and said he has sought assistance from the council and gardaí to deal with the problems in the lane that runs down the side of his premises and leads to several houses.


“There have been rapes in that laneway, assaults, people found dead, drug use; you name it, it’s happened in that laneway. Over the years we’ve been clearing it, picking the syringes out of it. People have been going to the toilet there — both ways — we clean that too.”

Older residents are nervous about passing people who are taking drugs or hanging around the lane, said Mr O’Reilly.

“Me and our staff are putting them out of the lane on a daily basis and we’re getting all sorts of threats. The residents that are living in the laneway, a lot of older people, are coming into our staff to walk them to their houses. So enough is enough.”

About two years ago Mr O’Reilly contacted the council to ask about the process for putting gates on the lane. He said he was told that as long as the gates were less than 2m tall, and everyone who had right of way agreed in writing, planning permission would not be required.

“The council asked for paperwork to extinguish the right of way. That was sent to them on the 9th of March 2023. We put in everything we were asked for. We didn’t hear back, so as far as we were concerned the extinguishment was done and we could go ahead with the gates.”

Mr O’Reilly said he heard nothing further from the council until earlier this month, approximately a year after he had sent the documentation, saying it was investigating a complaint of unauthorised laneway closure.

“To say we illegally put up a gate is extreme when all we’ve done is followed the advice of Dublin City Council. We’re dealing with the flak day in day out and basically, we’ve just had enough and we went ahead and got the job done.”

The council has confirmed it received a complaint, “relating to the alleged closing of a lane by erecting an electric gate at Parnell Place, Dublin 1. As this investigation is at a very early stage, and is ongoing, no further comment can be made relating to it at this time.”

Green Party councillor Janet Horner raised concerns when councillors approved the closure of Harbour Court that it would lead to increased pressure to close city lanes.

“I think it set the tone that it’s the right way, or an acceptable way, to deal with social issues in the city,” she said.

“I think a strong signal has been sent from the city that we are not willing to put energy and effort into reviving laneways, so people are increasingly looking towards one of the only solutions that has been offered to the problems we face with our laneways. And that’s to shut them off.”

While councillors voted to close Harbour Court last January the laneway remains open. The council said it has agreed specifications for gates with local businesses and Dublin Fire Brigade and “these will be installed in the near future”.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times