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City hostel's 24-hour patrol over drug fear

SENIOR gardai have ordered the 24-hour patrol of a city homeless hostel after businesses warned that drug dealing and anti-social behaviour is spiralling out of control.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has been forced to defend policing in the capital just days after the Herald detailed the major concerns surrounding the Cedar House facility.

A business leader in the city has warned that the re-opening of the hostel – just off O'Connell Street – has put jobs at risk.

Richard Guiney, CEO of the Dublin City Business Improvement Districts (BIDS), said that the hostel is having a detrimental effect on businesses, adding that there has been an increase in drug dealing in the area since it reopened.

"In my opinion, this facility will be the straw on the camel's back for a significant number of businesses in the area and this will lead to closures and job losses," Mr Guiney said.

The issues surrounding Cedar House were raised in the Dail this week by Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan.

CONCERNS

In response, Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed that the facility is now being patrolled on a round-the-clock basis.

"The area is subject to 24- hour foot and mobile patrols including uniform high visibility personnel, plain clothes personnel, the Crime Task Force and the Drug and Crime Prevention Units," the minister said.

"A number of policing initiatives have been put in place by local garda management to prevent and disrupt anti-social behaviour, including the sale, distribution and use of drugs in the locality. These initiatives have been acknowledged by the local business community as resulting in a reduction of such behaviour," he added.

The hostel is operated by Dublin City Council's homeless agency and provides temporary accommodation for up to 50 men and women.

Independent Councillor Nial Ring expressed fears that the problems surrounding Cedar House will "severely damage the city's image".

"It's vital that Store Street gardai are giving enough resources so that they can deal with the clear problems around this facility," he told the Herald.

"I'd be particularly concerned that the problems here will give this great city a bad name."

noconnor@herald.ie


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