'These burnings are a distraction' - Arson attacks being used to 'occupy gardai' says Fianna Fáil spokesman
Car burnings are being carried out in the south Dublin area to "distract gardai", Fianna Fáil's justice spokesman has said.
Twelve cars have been burned out in the Portobello area in the past two months - with some of them being set on fire in broad daylight.
Jim O'Callaghan TD has condemned the acts and believes they are a ploy to occupy gardai while other criminal activities are happening in the area.
"This is an issue that has been going on for nearly 2 months now," he told Independent.ie.
"I met the superintendent in Kevin Street recently to talk about the issue. The gardaí are aware of who is behind it and the reasons. It appears that these burnings are being carried out to distract the gardaí from doing other important work there in the area. I have asked for increased garda presence."
Locals are concerned there has been a "surge in drug use" and are calling for more resources to be deployed in the area.
"The burnings stopped for a couple of weeks but now they're happening worse than ever. Drugs are a big problem around here and the fact cars are being set on fire in the middle of the day shows these lads have no fear," one resident said.
Independent.ie spoke to two people who had their cars set alight and a number of other locals who feel unsafe in the area following the arson attacks.
On Saturday, gardai were called to the Portobello area after two men were seen trying to open the boot of the car, with the owners fearing their car was being targeted.
The most recent incident happened on Thursday in broad daylight on Arnott Street in the Portobello area.
Gardai were called to the scene at 12.50pm after a grey Honda Jazz was set alight.
Another woman had her Peugeot 207 set on fire in July.
"I’ve lived here for most of my life and it’s a lovely neighbourhood, but now suddenly people are living in fear and worrying that their homes could be next," she told Independent.ie.
"I was meant to be going on holidays to Kerry the weekend it happened. I was in my house when I heard a loud thump and when I went outside, my car was up in flames.
"Everyone and their dogs knows who is doing it but people are afraid to speak out in case someone gets hurt."
Another woman had her Toyota Corolla "completely destroyed" back in June. She had only just moved into the area and has been unable to afford a new car.
"This is terror, it’s just a different type of terror," she said.
"There are a lot of trees around here and people are worried that their homes will catch fire. It's really scary to be living here while this is going on."