Begging law alone won’t solve city centre’s problems

Dublin's boardwalks have become known as areas for homeless and drug addicts to hang out

Dublin's boardwalks have become known as areas for homeless and drug addicts to hang out

Dublin City Centre’s problems won’t be solved by a new law banning aggressive begging if people are unwilling to even pick up their phone.

Even after a ban on begging was ruled unconstitutional, much of the problems with with beggars and ‘junkies’ are already covered by law.

Any act of aggression or intimation is covered. Begging at Luas stops and on trams is covered as loitering under the light railway bylaws.

These are already covered but daily Luas users complain about beggars annoying them when buying tickets or even on trams.

The idea that new laws will solve the problems of the city centre is a sick joke when current crimes are often not being reported. And maybe laws are not being enforced or there isn’t enough policing resources for the city?

Take this jem from the Sunday Independent, where the journalist wrote: “Since the old Vagrancy Act was struck down, gardai have had no proper legal powers to move on beggars or the heroin addicts who have been congregating in the city centre in large numbers — in some place openly dealing drugs within yards of the busiest shopping and tourist areas.”

Typical mishmash for the Independent, mixing fact with fiction. There may be no powers to stop somebody from begging, but including “openly dealing drugs” is the same sentence is nonsense. Clearly the Gardai still do have powers to stop drug dealing in public, the Vagrancy Act being struck down does not affect this.

After the Sunday Independent article was publiched, a statement was also released by lord mayor Gerry Breen calling on the Dail to hurry up with a new begging law (the press release was covered in The Irish Times etc — at least with the Sunday Independent, the city centre’s problems are news before the lord mayor makes statements).

The problem is highlighted in an ongoing thread  on boards.ie called “Junkies in city centre“. But that thread and others show that people often don’t report events to the gardai or security. People say they don’t have the time, or don’t want to get involved.

With the majority being so unwilling to report a crime, it makes it hard to know how much of this is down to lack or resources for the Gardai or inaction. Both of these are unfair if so many people are unwilling to look for a garda or security guard, or walk away and just ring the local Garda station. And, sometimes, making a statement is needed.

People not willing to get involved or even picking up the phone is one of the wider problems here. Other problems such as too much centralised resources for the homeless and for drug addicts are already being worked on. Homelessness its self is an even wider problem again. A new law isn’t the be all and end all of solving the Dublin City Centre’ problems.

IMAGE: Attribution Some rights reserved by Kieran Lynam

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