A new Garda station will be opened on Dublin’s O’Connell Street as part of efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and drug-dealing on the capital’s main thoroughfare.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee outlined the plans to boost the Garda presence on O’Connell Street at Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday.
Operation Citizen and Operation Spire - which specifically targets anti-social behaviour and drug dealing on O’Connell Street - will be run from the premises at 13A Upper O’Connell Street.
Victim support services will also potentially due to carried out from the new station.
Work is ongoing at the building to install the necessary ICT infrastructure, as well as other refurbishing.
Ms McEntee told Fine Gael TDs and Senators the station is due to open "in the coming months".
The Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland welcomed the news, saying that she had raised the need for such a move in a meeting with Drew Harris last August.
“While it has taken some time I believe this new Garda hub will enhance citizen safety in the O’Connell St area and will allow gardaí a more central and visible space from which to operate their street patrols.”
It was reported last year that the Office of Public Works was considering selling another Garda premises on O’Connell Street which was last used in 2018.
Operation Citizen has been extended to a seven-day operation coming into the summer having focussed on the weekend over the Christmas and winter period. It is aimed at tackling public order, assaults and high volume-crime in the city centre.
Another Garda initiative, Operation Irene, is to start in Dublin in June and its goal is to crack-down on under-age alcohol consumption as well as drinking in public places. This operation will continue until the end of August.
Earlier in the Dáil Fianna Fáil TD Jim O'Callaghan warned that gangs of youths who believe they are "immune to apprehension" are "prowling Dublin city" at night looking for people to attack.
He said they are “misogynistic towards women, homophobic towards gay people” and in particular are seeking to target men in their late teens, 20s or 30s who are on their own or with just one other person. The Dublin Bay South TD said there was a “dangerous level of unprovoked and gratuitous violence” being perpetrated against people who are socialising in Dublin at night.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys chaired the Fine Gael meeting as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is currently leading a trade mission to the west coast of the United States.
She told the meeting that the number of people on the Live Register has fallen below 180,000 and this is fewer people on the register than before the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.
There were also discussions on Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s plans to ban the sale of turf which had caused anger amongst rural TDs in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil today that no ban would come into effect this year. Mr Ryan had intended it to begin in September.
Laois-0ffaly TD Charlie Flanagan - who has been one of the most vocal critics of the plan - highlighted the importance of the matter in his contribution to the parliamentary party meeting.
Sources said he wants Mr Ryan to meet Fine Gael politicians again to update them on developments as he seeks to resolve the issue.