Gardaí have increased presence on Dublin’s streets and it is a ‘safe city’, says Commissioner

Drew Harris also insists vetting for security staff blamed for delays at Dublin Airport ‘working well’

Gardaí have increased their presence on the streets of Dublin and it is a "safe city", according to Commissioner Drew Harris.

Mr Harris also insisted vetting processes for security staff that have been blamed for passenger delays that arose at Dublin Airport in March are "working well".

He was speaking after the official opening of a new Garda Station at Dublin Airport which was attended by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

Last week Fianna Fáil TD Jim O'Callaghan raised concern in the Dáil that gangs of youths who believe they are "immune to apprehension" are "prowling Dublin city" at night looking for people to attack.

He said there was a “dangerous level of unprovoked and gratuitous violence” being perpetrated against people who are socialising in Dublin at night. Mr O’Callaghan argued that there are not enough Gardaí on Dublin’s streets and he said he didn’t want to see them at meetings at nighttime or “stuck in garda stations”.

Mr Harris responded to the remarks saying that Operation Citizen - which is aimed at tackling public order and assaults - is in place in the city centre.

Mr Harris said there is a permanent Garda presence on O’Connell street and referred to plans for a new patrol centre to be opened on the Capital’s main thoroughfare.

“We have upped our presence and our profile but we do acknowledge it is a busy city, a lot happens in it... At the same time, I would say it is a safe city and we work hard to make sure that’s true.”

Enhanced background checks

Last week the Irish Times reported that Dublin Airport operator DAA complained to the Department of Transport in early March that the "necessary preparations" were not made for a new regime of European Union-mandated enhanced background checks (EBCs) for airport staff that was delaying the hiring of new workers.

DAA has since publicly highlighted the EBCs for staff as contributing to the “perfect storm” that caused passenger delays.

Additional personnel

In his letter to the Department DAA chief executive Dalton Philips called for sufficient Garda resourcing to be "put in place immediately". The Department wrote back to say that additional personnel had been assigned to manage the increased level of demand.

Mr Harris rejected a suggestion that there were not enough Garda personnel working on vetting while confirming that more were added. He said a team was in place from January 4th to handle the new EBC vetting regime and said: “One of the aspects of enhanced vetting is we also have to check with countries where an individual may have been living or resident for a period and so that that is a delay where we have to ask in effect other services, other police services, etc. to give us information.

“But we knew that well before. All of that was flagged up... that these processes are longer than a standard vetting check.”

Mr Harris said the EBC system is “working well” adding: “Even today, I spoke to the management of the airport and they’re pleased in fact, with our responsiveness.”

He said: “our vetting processes generally and our enhanced vetting processes are quick and they are working well.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

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