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Saturday 26 July 2014

Operation Spire to clean up O'Connell Street ahead of 1916 centenary

* New RTE documentary 'The Street' showing how gardai using extensive CCTV
* Operation Spire launched in January >br> * Operation uses undercover and uniformed gardai

Eoghan McNeill

Published 14/07/2014|16:22

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Gardai are using CCTV to address drug dealing and anti-social behaviour on O'Connell Street.

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Superintendent Sean Ward of Store Street Garda Station is heading 'Operation Spire' – an initiative aimed at cleaning up Dublin’s main thoroughfare.

“In general, the perception among the public was that O’Connell Street wasn’t a safe place to visit, and accordingly, last January, Operation Spire commenced,” he says.

“One of the key elements of Operation Spire is that we have a member in the garda offices, monitoring the CCTV system itself.

"In the event that he sees any suspicious activity, there’s a process in a place where he can contact either a uniformed guard, or a plain-clothes officer on Operation Spire.

They can intervene and take whatever appropriate action is necessary depending on the facts of the situation,” he explained.

An RTÉ documentary airing tomorrow night – The Street – highlights the work being done by undercover and uniformed gardai of Operation Spire, and some of the challenges they face.

Veteran street newsagent Austin Cregan tells how drug dealers have been openly selling prescription drugs, hash and heroin on the street for “about five or six years”:

“Before that, you knew it went on but it was more around the corner at the back of a lane but it just got to a stage where it got crazy,” he says.

“If they’re around all the time, people are reluctant to come over. They’re arguing, fighting, pissing, puking,” he says, from behind his newsstand.

Supt Ward wants to ensure O’Connell Street is safe for visitors to Dublin for the 1916 centenary celebrations in two years.

“Like any other street in any other major European City, it has its problems, and we have to deal with these problems.

We’re well aware in two years time, we’ll be marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising, so it’s important our main street looks well, and is policed well and everybody can feel safe when they come into it,” he said.

Watch the trailer for the documentary here.

Irish Independent

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