Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan said he believes homeless tents should be removed from the capital, and that they add to a perception that the city is “edgy”.
Mr Keegan was speaking after Irish Olympian Jack Woolley was randomly attacked by eight to 12 people on Dublin’s Liffey boardwalk on Friday night.
However, he said he doesn’t believe the capital is necessarily unsafe – it just has that perception.
“I think the Gardaí will probably say that, objectively, Dublin city is very safe in comparison with other city centres,” the head of Dublin City Council said on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder.
“But I think probably more important is the perception, and I think there is a real perception issue.
“It’s not just the frequency of media reports of lone individuals being attacked, but we’ve had evidence of groups of young people, congregating, drinking and causing a whole lot of low-level anti-social behaviour.
“So I think all that adds up and creates a perception that Dublin isn’t a family-friendly place or, you know, friendly for women. And I think that’s something we have to be very concerned about.”
Mr Keegan added that “the proliferation of tents” also adds to the perception that the capital is “edgy”.
“There are other aspects, like the proliferation of tents, and I’ll get into trouble for saying this, but we don’t think people should be allowed sleep in tents when there’s an abundance of supervised accommodation in hostels,” he said.
“We remove tents, it’s something we do. It’s not very popular but we do it because we don’t believe it’s appropriate.
“It adds to a perception of a city that is too edgy for some people, and people respond to that by saying ‘well I just won’t go into the city centre.’
“There will be a massive Twitter campaign now against this because every time we mention this they are all out objecting.”
Mr Keegan added that he doesn’t believe tents should be allowed as they’re not as safe as supervised homeless hostels.
“I think objectively being in a tent is much less safe than being in a professionally managed hostel,” he said.
“If you are in a hostel, that is a congregated setting and there has to be some limit on your behaviour, and some people find that very challenging.
“We’ve had up to 100/150 beds available every night for homeless people, and we would have thought that it’s not unreasonable that in those situations, if you’re homeless, you’d go into a professionally managed hostel.”
The Dublin City Council CEO said the last thing the capital needs is a perception that it is unsafe, as businesses are already struggling due to the pandemic. He doesn’t believe the Government should be promoting remote working, as many city centre businesses rely on office workers.
“Remote working is going to happen anyway, but I don’t think it needs the Government to be actively promoting it.”