Saturday 18 November 2017

Mayor in call to rid city streets of beggars

Treacy Hogan

DRUG addicts and beggars should not be allowed to openly roam Dublin city centre, scaring tourists and shoppers, and harming businesses, the Lord Mayor said yesterday.

Gerry Breen disclosed that he is writing to every member of the Oireachtas, calling on them to finally make begging on the streets illegal.

Large groups of drug addicts should not be in prime city centre shopping, business and tourist streets, he said.

Parents would be reluctant to let their children into the city, and businesses are suffering because of the twin problem. Gardai "can't touch" the beggars, he warned.

This is because the old Vagrancy Act, which allowed gardai to move on beggars and loiterers, was struck down as unconstitutional in 2007.

A new Criminal Justice (Public Order ) Bill 2010, which has not yet been approved by the Oireachtas, will make it an offence to beg within 10 metres of a business premises.

There has been widespread concern over the increasing number of addicts congregating in Dublin city centre north of the River Liffey after receiving treatment at methadone clinics.

Many of them are clearly under the influence of drugs.

The Liffey Boardwalk, Talbot Street, Marlborough Street, and certain streets off O'Connell Street are all areas where the addicts are highly visible.

The Lord Mayor, in an interview in the Mansion House with the Irish Independent yesterday, said: " Should they be in our prime tourist and shopping areas? I don't think so.

"There is a perceived threat to safety.

"There are parts of the northside that are very hard to walk without encountering people with a drug problem or begging," said the Lord Mayor.

"The tens of thousands of people working in shops and businesses are also being impacted by them.

Hassled

"Begging is another big issue. The gardai can't touch them as this was found to be unconstitutional. I am going to write to every member of the Oireachtas looking for the anti-begging legislation to be passes as soon as possible."

Mr Breen added: "If you are being continually hassled by people begging it is not a pleasant experience. If you are a visitor to the city, you judge your visit by your experience."

He suggested that one option was to shut down the city-centre methadone clinic and have the maintenance drugs dispensed by local suburban pharmacies.

Irish Independent

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