Call to speed up new begging law

 

A CALL to speed up the introduction of measures to arrest people who beg in the streets has been issued by the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Fine Gael councillor Gerry Breen made his call after the inaugural meeting of Dublin’s city centre local policing forum, which includes representatives of the Garda, the city council and business and tourism interests in the capital.

He said measures in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2010, which is before the Oireachtas, contained anti-begging provisions that should not be delayed by political opposition.

The provisions would make it an offence to beg within 10m of a business premises and the Lord Mayor said this “cannot come into law quickly enough”.

“Only when the new law comes into force can gardaí arrest people who are begging right outside the front door of city centre businesses and make them stop.”

Mr Breen said yesterday that begging in Dublin was now “organised and on a commercial level”.

Begging had become a number one issue for residents and visitors to the city and the new law would “bring an end to complaints by people who are put off having to pass by beggars when they want to go into a shop or walk on the city centre streets on their way to and from doing business in the city.”

Mr Breen said Ireland had “a generous welfare system” and while there was always need, there was no need for begging on the scale that it currently takes place in the capital city.

He pointed to a recent survey which found that 83 per cent of people are bothered by begging outside of premises in the city centre.

About 76 per cent said it lead to “the public perception that the city streets are not safe, even though the reality is that crime in the city centre is down by more than 15 per cent over the last 18 months.”

The policing forum also discussed the Health Service Executive’s drug maintenance scheme which the mayor said had “resulted in the location of the majority of dispensary clinics in the city centre”.

The policing forum will now make recommendations to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights.