Gardaí investigate organisers of 38 Dublin protests so far this year

Knife crime decreasing despite public fears, councillors told

Dublin gardaí have initiated investigations into 38 protests which have taken place in the capital so far this year.

Several of these investigations have resulted in the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) recommending that organisers be charged and brought before the courts. It is understood some of these relate to the anti-lockdown protests which have taken place in Dublin in recent months.

Other protests which have taken place include demonstrations relating to the death of George Nkencho and protests concerning violence against women following the murder of Sarah Everard in London.

The figures were detailed in a report to the Dublin City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) by the Assistant Commissioner for Dublin, Anne Marie Cagney.

“All protests are risk assessed by Garda management in terms of the risks associated with the protest and commensurate with Covid-19 restrictions that are in effect at the time,” the report said.

“The DPP has directed prosecutions contrary to Section 31A of the Health Act 1947 (Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) Regulations, 2020 for a number of these files and proceedings have now commenced.”

As well as the prosecution of organisers, up to 40 people have already been charged under public order legislation in relation to the demonstrations. A large number of Fixed Charge Penalty notices have also been handed out to people found in breach of the current travel restrictions.

Knife crime

During a meeting of the JPC on Tuesday, Ms Cagney pushed back on the view that knife crime is getting worse in the city.

Councillors highlighted an incident on Samuel Beckett Bridge on Monday evening during which dozens of teenagers engaged in a fight on the bridge, briefly forcing traffic to a halt, and resulting in one teen being badly injured.

Several images appeared on social media afterwards of young teenagers carrying blades “10 and 12 inches long”, the meeting heard.

Ms Cagney said in 2020 gardaí recorded the third-lowest rate of knife crime in the last decade.

Last year, just 1.4 per cent of items seized by gardaí were knives, a lower proportion than ever before, Ms Cagney said. She said 19-22 year olds were the age group mostly likely to be found carrying knives.

“That gives you some sense of the nature of the persons in the community who are carrying knives.”

She said in 2019 there was a reported increase in knife-related crime but that decreased in 2020. So far in 2021 there have been 153 reports of knife-related crime in Dublin.

Several councillors said the perception of increased knife possession among young people was causing significant fear in communities.

"People are afraid to say anything to groups of young people because they're afraid a knife will be taken out," said Cllr Tara Deasy.

Ms Cagney said she understood the perception on the ground did not tally with the statistics and a wider approach was needed, including through the education of young people.

The Assistant Commissioner also detailed the work of Dublin gardaí in addressing drug-related intimidation. Since the launch of an initiative last year to tackle the issue, the Garda has received 53 reports of drug-related intimidation.

Four persons were before the courts facing 13 charges of intimidation, Ms Cagney said, adding that on Tuesday the DPP directed eight charges be brought against a 16-year-old who was allegedly involved in the activity.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times

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