In-store cash-donation boxes aim to cut down street begging
SHOP owners in Dublin are trying to reduce the amount of street begging by offering in-store dedicated donation points.
A group representing 2,500 businesses in the capital said problematic street begging, already illegal, had increased by 79pc in the last three months of the year.
Dublin's Business Improvement District (Bid) claimed they are concerned that money given directly to people in need on the streets will not make much difference to their lives.
Richard Guiney, Bid chief executive, said it also gives a perception that the city is not safe.
"Giving change to someone begging on the street does nothing to alleviate genuine social problems," he said.
The Bid campaign will see 40 donation boxes in selected shops with all money going to registered charity Tiglin, which rehabilitates addicts.
Niall Murphy, a former homeless drug user who completed the scheme, said his life began a second time with support from the charity in 2009.
He said: "Alcohol and heroin had me at death's door many times and I couldn't find a way out.
"My hope was lost. Suicidal thoughts and drug overdoses were a constant battle.
"I thank God that today I'm free and I'm no longer the person I used to be."
Mr Murphy is now at college studying for a diploma, and is engaged to be married.
Bid warned about levels of organised begging and also supports calls for methadone clinics and treatment centres to be moved out of the city centre to prevent addicts and dealers congregating at some locations.
It identified restaurants, bars and side streets in the Grafton Street, Stephen's Green and South William Street areas as begging blackspots, along with ATMs, parking meters and old, mainly defunct telephone boxes which addicts also use when injecting drugs.
Mr Guiney added: "The objective of this campaign is to reduce active street begging on our streets, while at the same time directing funds to a very worthy organisation which is making a real difference."
Tough new laws outlawing aggressive begging came into force in February 2011.