Garda pledges safe streets for Rising tribute
A LEADING garda has pledged to clean up Dublin's O'Connell Street and to make it safe for the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising.
Superintendent Sean Ward, of Store Street garda station, is the head of Operation Spire.
The operation involves both undercover and plain clothes gardai and specifically targets drug dealers and anti-social behaviour in the area.
RTE star Ryan Tubridy has recently called O'Connell Street "the biggest kip in the country".
Now the national broadcaster has produced a documentary called The Street, which has highlighted some harsh realities in the area.
In it, rubbish collectors can be seen clearing syringes and other drug paraphernalia.
Supt Ward said: "In two years time we'll be marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising so it is important our main street looks well and everybody can feel safe when they come into it.
"In recent times one of our main concerns was the drug-dealing on O'Connell Street and adjoining streets and the perception among the public was that O'Connell Street was an unsafe place to vi#sit. Accordingly then last January Operation Spire commenced.
"Gardai are patrolling the streets with people employed by the drug treatment centres and they are identifying individuals who are drug dependent, some of whom are suffering chaotic lifestyles, and referring them to the drug treatment centres."
Longstanding street newsagent, Austin Cregan, has said that drug dealing has been going on in the area for years.
"Prescription drugs and hash or heroin really kicked off very openly about five or six years ago. Before that you knew it went on but it was more around the corner at the back of a lane, but it just got to a stage where it got crazy," he said.
And he added: "The terminology was 'are you looking?'. That was the opening sign for doing business. It's so open it's unbelievable."
The RTE documentary gives a compelling snapshot of the capital city's best known thoroughfare, which had a footfall of 27 million last year.
The ongoing homeless crisis in Dublin has also been portrayed in the documentary.
And the sad fact of people sleeping on the street and using the surrounding lanes as toilets are present.
The Street, will be shown on RTE One tomorrow at 9.35pm