Major Garda operation launches in Dublin city centre ahead of Christmas

Crime expected to rise as night-time economy reopens, says assistant commissioner

A Garda car on Henry Street in Dublin ahead of Christmas in 2020. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A Garda car on Henry Street in Dublin ahead of Christmas in 2020. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

A major public order policing operation, focused on reducing street violence, has commenced in Dublin city centre as the night-time economy is reopening after lockdown.

Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Cagney, who is charge of policing for the Dublin region, said she believed the city was a safe place. However, she said crime was expected to increase again as the night-time economy gained momentum after city-centre crime trends dropped during the pandemic.

Despite a fall in anti-social behaviour and public order during the Covid-19 period, the Garda force had listened to feedback from local communities in the city centre and other groups who said they “felt unsafe” in central Dublin.

And now Operation Citizen would seek to reassure them, as well as deterring violence and responding rapidly in the event trouble flared during what was expected to be a very busy period in the build up to Christmas.

“People had a sense that they felt unsafe around the city,” Ms Cagney said, adding Operation Citizen was aimed at increasing the perception of safety. Because of that, future feedback from community and business groups would be crucial to measuring the success of the operation.

Ms Cagney said gardaí wanted to address assaults, including assaults causing harm, in the city centre as people socialised. The Garda was determined to “maximise our presence” on the streets of Dublin and she believed Operation Citizen, which was formally launched in the south inner city on Friday evening, would offer reassurance.

It would be concentrated on “areas with a high footfall and areas with pockets of anti-social behaviour”. Gardaí wanted people to be able to enjoy socialising in the city, seeing gardaí on the streets and feeling safe as a result.

Garda units were being deployed to certain areas, including the boardwalk and general area of the quays, and they would remain there permanently. In other areas, a more “fluid” high-visibility presence would be in place, which could move between areas of the north and south city centre when required.

When arrests took place, the arresting gardaí would not need to return to their station to process a suspect. Instead, other Garda personnel would perform that task for them, ensuring their frontline colleagues remained on the street for a full shift.

Operation Citizen will involve teams of Garda personnel conducting high-visibility patrols in the centre of the city during what gardaí believe will be a very busy period until the end of the year.

Amid complaints the boardwalk area along the north bank of the River Liffey had become a no-go area because of anti-social behaviour, eight gardaí have been assigned to patrol it full-time between the hours of 4pm and 4am.

Under Operation Citizen, over 100 Garda members were set to patrol the city centre at weekends, including 20 gardaí or foot or mountain-bike patrols and another 24 in vehicles. Numbers were being increased by 30 personnel each weekend while armed gardaí and, a 25-strong Public Order Unit, the Garda Mounted Unit and the Garda Dog Unit were also being deployed.