On Friday, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister Helen McEntee, Minister Paschal Donohoe, Minister of State James Browne and Senator Mary Fitzpatrick met with members of the North Inner City Community Coalition to discuss recent violent incidents in the area.
The meeting also offered an opportunity for the local community to outline their concerns and put forward a number of ideas to address the current situation.
Following the meeting, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:
“I extend my deepest sympathies to all those impacted by the shocking incidents which have taken place in Dublin in recent weeks. This sort of behaviour cannot continue, and I know that the Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner have been meeting this week to discuss a plan to tackle these recent incidents.
“An Garda Síochána has a comprehensive policing plan in place in Dublin’s north inner city which will see high visibility patrols carried out on a daily basis, with a particular focus on the areas where public order and related offending has taken place in recent weeks.
“We need strong community engagement, increased community safety and enhanced youth services in order to reduce and prevent crime, and my Government is determined that this will be delivered. There will be outreach and information programmes, run in a number of different languages, for all communities, as well as youth justice and other interventions.”
Acknowledging the effect that recent violent incidents have had on the local community, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said:
“People must not be afraid to leave their homes because of a small minority who are determined to cause harm to others. The safety of the community in Dublin’s north inner city is a priority for us all.
“The Garda Commissioner is keeping me updated on the policing plan An Garda Síochána has put in place for the area. During our meeting this week, the Commissioner and I discussed what more we can do to tackle violent crime. We agreed that we should carry out further analysis on the level of violent crime in our society, including with our colleagues in public health.
“We discussed drawing lessons from international examples, such as Scotland and London. Although their challenges were significant and perhaps greater than ours, we can still learn from their approach.
“We are also conscious that the usual levels of community engagement and youth services are not possible during Covid restrictions. My Department and An Garda Síochána will continue our outreach programmes, engagement and interventions but we will formulate new ways of targeting young people when they cannot participate in their normal activities and programmes.”
Steps to pilot a Local Community Safety Partnership in the North Inner City Electoral Area are at an advanced stage. The pilot will cover a geographical area which will include and extend beyond the existing North East Inner City Initiative, and will build on and learn from the successes of that project, while informing the introduction of similar pilots in other locations and ultimately the roll out of community safety partnerships across the country.
A key objective of the community safety pilot is to bring together service providers and the community to identify and address the needs of that community. Cormac Ó Donnchú has recently been appointed to Chair the pilot Partnership and will very shortly begin a process of engagement with relevant stakeholders in the area. A community – such as the North Inner City – often has a range of resources available and the Partnership can act as a means to bring those resources together, and identify and address gaps where gaps exist.
Minister of State with responsibility for Youth Justice, James Browne, commented,
“While An Garda Síochána will continue with their proactive measures to tackle knife crime through their assault reduction strategy, they also work with young people through education and engagement with community initiatives.
“I will shortly launch a new Youth Justice Strategy which will strengthen and expand the role of the Garda Youth Diversion projects and other community-based initiatives, including those working with the Probation Service, with the objective of diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour, including knife crime.
Local TD and Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, said,
“The discussion today with the North Inner City Community Coalition was extremely valuable. The presence of An Taoiseach at the meeting shows the importance the Government places on the safety and security of the people of Dublin’s inner city, especially in light of the spate of violent attacks in recent weeks.
“The Local Community Safety Partnership will build on the excellent work of the North East Inner City (NEIC) initiative, which has been making great progress since its establishment four years ago. Engagement with the local community is key to the success of any initiative but most notably in rooting out the causes of crime. The communities of the NEIC are vibrant and proud. By all strands working together we can and we will make our streets safer.
“The number of Gardaí in the Dublin North Central Division had grown by over 15% since 2015 to 680 members. By ensuring appropriate resources are delivered by Government and that a coordinated and inclusive approach is taken to tackling this issue we will empower local communities to feel safe, secure and supported in their own localities.”
It is recognised that there is a real need to involve other services in addressing issues currently being dealt with solely by An Garda Síochána. Garda resources are regularly called on to address issues where there are underlying issues related to mental health, addiction issues or youth behaviour. There is a real need to bring other services into the frame, to support An Garda Síochána and to engage with vulnerable persons at risk of harm to themselves and others.
Senator Mary Fitzpatrick who also attended the meeting said,
“The whole of Dublin’s north inner-city community has been devastated and undermined by the recent upsurge in violence and deaths. It is unacceptable that young people, adults and delivery workers feel unsafe to leave their homes or walk the streets of Dublin’s north inner city.
“It is critical that at the highest levels in Government the threat to public safety of the north inner-city community has been acknowledged and a sustained whole of government response offered. Government’s welcoming of the constructive community suggestions creates a positive context for joint efforts to ensure a safer north inner city for all.”
The Taoiseach and Ministers committed to working with local community leaders in the weeks and months ahead to restore a sense of safety in the local community, and the Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner will remain in ongoing contact on all of these issues.