A LARGE section of shrubbery along a prominent Dublin seaside promenade has been dug up amid fears over attacks on women.
Clontarf residents say there have been a number of incidents in which women were followed and threatened by strangers who had been lurking in the bushes along the popular seafront.
City officials are spending €10,000 removing the shrubs as a result of complaints from residents.
Gardai are investigating one particular claim that a female walker was followed by a man late last month. The woman fled the promenade after encountering the man and managed to alert a passerby.
In a separate incident, another woman has alleged that she was approached by a man who demanded her handbag.
The Clontarf Residents Association today said they have received reports of numerous incidents in which walkers felt threatened by people lurking in the undergrowth.
“This shrubbery has been allowed grow and grow and it's now got to a stage where people don't feel safe,” according to the association’s Deirdre Tobin.
“There have been several incidents that we have been made aware of where people felt scared and it's got to a stage where the council has to act,” she added.
Ms Tobin said there was an issue of people “sleeping rough” in the shrubbery which was causing concern.
“The work has begun but it's going to take time and shrubbery will be removed intermittently. At the end of the work, we believe the promenade will be much nicer as well as safer,” she added.
As a result of the complaints, the council has begun removing the shrubbery.
Local councillor Damian O'Farrell confirmed that a |sum of €10,000 has been budgeted for the first phase of the works.
“The promenade has a special place in the hearts of the residents of Clontarf. It's vital that it is a place where families and walkers feel comfortable and secure. I have received assurances from the city council that the money will be there to complete these works.”
He added: “Security is the number one priority and that is why this work is necessary.”
Clontarf residents won a high-profile battle in 2011 against a City plan to build a huge flood barrier along the promenade. Fears for the safey of walkers, who would have been cut off from view by the barrier, were raised at the time.
It's understood that the council work will be put on hold for the bird nesting season in March and resume when the nesting season ends in October. This is due to concerns for wildlife during this period.
In a statement to the Herald, a council spokeswoman said: “With regard to the shrubbery at Clontarf promenade, pruning and reduction have begun and will continue.”