Jim Cusack: Drug selling, arson and gang feuds afflict daily life in Dublin 1
Dublin's north inner city is the most heavily policed neighbourhood in the State following seven gang-feud murders, but last weekend another two cars were torched as tensions intensified between increasingly reckless young gangs.
Local residents, ordinary decent people trying to bring up their children in the best way they can, are faced with fights, violence and wanton vandalism on the streets near their homes almost every weekend.
Some 700 garda are stationed in the Store Street District with an additional 78 recruits allocated there this year.
The district is also the test bed for a 'sectoral policing' policy under which gardai are supposed to be allocated to individual streets to build up confidence in the Seville Place area, right next door to the Irish Financial Services Centre, yet residents say nothing is being done to curb drug dealing and vandalism.
Last Saturday night and through Sunday, residents say youths, including several from families caught up in feuding, went on a rampage, leaving two cars on fire outside St Laurence O'Toole school and the adjoining Sisters of Charity counselling service - which are in line for up to €5m in funding promised by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Last week open drug dealing was taking place in the Sheriff Street-Oriel Street area while gardai in patrol cars roved around surrounding areas. Residents warned that as well as the deaths and attempted murders arising from the Kinahan-Hutch feuding, smaller feuds were breaking out among rival gangs in the north inner city, with the strong expectation of further violence.
One local resident said: "After years of allowing people to do what they want - drug dealing, vandalism, etc - it is now endemic and normal for these individuals to do exactly that. The complete failure by the cops and Dublin City Council to properly deal with people who are, in most cases, Dublin City Council tenants has led to this point.
"The question for Enda Kenny is: is the Government willing to allow €5m or €6m to be spent on projects in Sheriff Street without dealing with the ingrained antisocial problems? Is Dublin City Council willing to allow its tenants to destroy an entire community as we see all the time with burning stolen cars in front of schools and people's homes; the open selling of drugs from Dublin City Council-rented homes, dumping huge amounts of rubbish on the streets week in week out, and then sending in unmarked trucks twice a week to clean up the mess while the decent people in the area pay bin charges for doing things the right way?
"The evidence to date is that the gardai and DCC have and continue to facilitate a culture of non-compliance to the normal rules of decent social behaviour in the Sheriff Street-North Wall area and unless serious measures are taken to put manners on these out-of-control individuals, then the money to be spent on the Government 'plan' will be wasted."
Last June, the Taoiseach visited the area and met 50 residents, teachers and social workers. He appointed Kieran Mulvey, former head of the Labour/Workplace Relations Commission, to draw up a plan to improve social conditions in the area, including spending public money on refurbishing local schools.