Drinking along Grand Canal ‘cannot continue’

Councillor says residents have complained about people littering and urinating

Part of the Grand Canal in Portabello, Dublin. Photograph: Caitriona O’Kennedy

Large numbers of people gathering to drink alcohol along the Grand Canal in Dublin during periods of good weather is something a local city councillor says “we cannot allow to continue”.

Hundreds of people congregated around Charlemont Bridge and Portobello Harbour over the Bank Holiday weekend as temperatures rose to 23 degrees, the highest recorded so far this year.

Cllr Mary Freehill (Labour), who lives along the Grand Canal, said she was contacted by a number of locals regarding people littering and urinating in the vicinity.

She said responding to the crowds required a more co-ordinated effort from gardaí and to recognise it is an issue that “has to be dealt with”.


“There has been drugs there as well, I’m afraid. What really concerns me about this is when you have a group of people consuming a lot of alcohol around very deep water. People may not realise that is an accident waiting to happen. It’s something we cannot allow to continue.”

Ms Freehill said she would be raising the issue at Dublin City Council’s South East area committee next week.

Cllr Chris Andrews (Sinn Féin) said “whenever the sun shines it’s a problem” dealing with groups gathering along the canal.

“There’s no overnight solution. We’re going to have to put a strategy in place to address it and redevelop it so there is infrastructure there for people who are social drinking and enjoying the scenery,” he said.

“The gardaí, Dublin City Council, Waterways Ireland, people themselves have to be more aware and more proactive. The area looks like it has a hangover this morning, like a lot of the people who were drinking there.”

Mr Andrews said some of the possibilities being considered included temporary portaloos, though this remains an “unpopular” option.

“Dublin City Council street cleaning team hose down the entire area the following morning. They put out extra bins which aren’t aesthetically pleasing but they’re functional. Even then, people throw (rubbish) into the canal when they get drunk. It is very difficult to address,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Green Party councillor in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown has advised families planning to visit the area’s beaches during warm weatherto go early in the day before people get rowdy after drinking alcohol.

Ossian Smyth issued the warning after gardaí used pepper spray to subdue members of a group drinking near the 40-Foot bathing spot on Sunday after an altercation.

The council has imposed a ban on the consumption of alcohol in public in the vicinity of the 40-Foot.

Mr Smyth said he knew someone who witnessed the incident, a daily swimmer and beach-cleaner, who was disturbed by what they had seen. He said “the earlier in the day that people go to the beach, the less chance of encountering anti-social behaviour like this.”

A Garda spokesman said officers attended a number of public order incidents at Sandycove on Sunday.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist