Lord Mayor defends 'safe' O'Connell St

Lord Mayor Christy Burke

By Laura Larkin

LORD Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke has defended the city's much-maligned main thoroughfare and said that he feels safe on O'Connell Street at any time of the day or night.

O'Connell Street which will act as the centre point for the 1916 rising centenary celebrations has received sustained criticism in recent years over its appearance, anti-social behaviour and instances of drug dealing.

But Cllr Burke, who represents the North Inner City yesterday defended the street saying: "I don't feel any different walking up during the day or at 12 at night. If it ever happens it'll be a sad day for me as a Dub to be afraid to walk up the main thoroughfare in my own capital city," he said.

And the Lord Mayor praised the streets' appearance saying: "If you look at the street around the GPO I think it's beautiful. It's just wonderful. There's a great sense of belonging and character attached to it," he told Newstalk's Jonathon Healy.

"O'Connell Street was always part of my patch particularly as a youngster and into my teens," he revealed.

The host suggested that the city's main street was a "poor relation" when compared to Grafton Street on the southside. Mr Burke agreed wholeheartedly: "Once you cross the bridge and hit the northside we seem to be left out of the slice of the cake," he said.

He believes that the streets reputation as a drugs haven is not deserved now. The problem of on-street dealing in the eighties has largely been dealt with he said adding: "I have no doubt that coming up to 2016 the Garda authorities will try to make the place safe."

Meanwhile Cllr Burke also took to the high seas and was made an Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port. He took part in the traditional ceremony of 'casting the spear' as part of the annual South Docks Festival.