Belfast Telegraph

Call to prioritise street crime

Dublin street crime should be a priority for the new independent Policing Authority, the Government said.

Aggressive begging and drug taking is causing problems amid falling numbers of gardai in the city centre, an opposition TD said.

During raucous exchanges in the Dail, Tanaiste Joan Burton told Fianna Fail's Niall Collins extra officers were being trained.

She said: "In terms of street crime and the kind of difficulties that you described on the streets of Dublin, I do think that should be a priority for the new independent Policing Authority."

Revenue Commissioners chairwoman Josephine Feehily is due to take up a new role at the head of the planned watchdog.

It will provide an additional layer of public oversight in policing and create a new engine to drive reforms of the policing system, according to the Government.

Ms Burton said she wanted to see more gardai on the beat, engaging in community policing.

But Mr Collins claimed the number in the capital had fallen by 12% and accused the Government of being in denial.

He asked Ms Burton: "Are you willing to agree to implement what the Dublin business associations are looking for, which is to boost gardai in Dublin city centre and release a quantity of funds allowing An Garda Siochana to operate in a meaningful way?"

Ms Burton said hundreds of new officers were being trained or would be trained in the future. She said extra money had been set aside for Garda overtime and investment in additional IT and other resources.

Earlier this year the Irish Medical Journal said the "sharp increase" in gun crime over the past decade in Dublin was placing a burden on hospital services.

Mr Collins said media reports suggested drug dealing had gone on behind Leinster House in broad daylight.

He added business leaders had briefed politicians about the problems.

"They told a tale of crime in Dublin city centre which is quite shocking, shoplifting and drug dealing."

A survey said 87% of people believed there should be a greater Garda presence in Dublin city centre, according to the TD.

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