Garda management was accused of failing both members of the force and those of the wider community at Monday evening’s meeting of Dublin City Council.
Councillors praised the collective response of emergency workers during the recent rioting in Dublin but were were critical of policing levels in the city centre generally and in particular of the initial reaction of An Garda Síochána to, what was suggested, were clear indications of impending trouble after the knife attack on a number of young pupils at Gaelscoil Coláiste Mhuire in which a carer was also seriously injured.
“We just simply don’t have enough visible gardaí,” Independent councillor Cieran Perry told the meeting. “Garda management badly let down their own members but much more importantly, they are letting down communities.
“I think we’re all in agreement that the resources must be put in. The Commissioner either demands those resources or admits that he doesn’t have them but I find it really disingenuous of him to try and pretend that we have sufficient policing.
“I was in town on the Thursday evening and even I could see what was going to happen. If the initial unrest of as early as five o’clock that evening had been addressed, we wouldn’t have seen what we saw later. I’m absolutely convinced of that,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s Janice Boylan recalled having walked around the city centre recently for an hour without seeing a single garda on patrol. “That’s not something that we should accept. We absolutely should have the guards fully resourced, that there is enough for them walking up and down because they absolutely do make people feel safe.”
There were repeated tributes by members of the council to those who played a part in halting the original attack including school worker Leanne Flynn Keogh who was stabbed a number of times in the incident.
Lord Mayor, Daithí De Róiste described the events in Dublin city centre on the night as “disgusting” but said he believed “from seeing the worst of our city, we also saw the best of our city”.
Several councillors, however, spoke of the ongoing fear among members of migrant communities in the wake of the rioting and some of the racist attacks it included.
Máire Devine of Sinn Féin, a nurse herself, said she had been at a meeting where nurses who had come here to work from overseas said they were “terrified”.
“They stood at the bus stops that night on James’s Street and were absolutely lambasted with extreme hate. And we’re going around the world trying to recruit nurses because we don’t have enough workers here.”
She said they had spoken of working to save the lives of people who, it seemed, then wanted to take theirs.
Janet Horner, a Green Party councillor representing the north inner city, said almost half of her constituents were born outside Ireland.
“And the fear among those communities is huge. We have children not turning up for school. We have people scared to walk home after they finish their shifts. And I’ve heard of people been spat at, accosted on the streets in the last week.”
Separately, the councillors agreed a motion to overturn a decision made in November not to fly the Palestinian flag from above City Hall for a week as a display of solidarity with the people of Gaza.
The flag will due to be flown from Tuesday for seven days.
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