herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Mayor says gardai will have power to arrest city beggars

A NEW law giving power back to gardai to tackle the growing problem of street begging is "ready to roll," Dublin's Lord Mayor Gerry Breen has revealed.

Legislation ensuring gardai have the legal power to arrest begging persons who refuse to "move on" when requested has already been prepared, the Herald has learned.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern informed the Lord Mayor "the legislation is there and ready to roll," Cllr Breen revealed. "I want the legislation to be passed into law before Christmas. Politicians must be intensively lobbied to ensure the new law is passed in the coming weeks," he said.

"Since the Vagrancy Act which outlawed begging was declared unconstitutional, the guards couldn't prosecute. The new law won't make begging illegal but it will give gardai the power to arrest anyone who failed to comply with their request to 'move on'."

The Lord Mayor ignited controversy in recent weeks when he publicly complained about drug addicts harassing people for money on the streets.

He told the Herald he is willing to meet with all interest groups concerned with the problems of drug addiction and its consequences. He had a meeting yesterday with the Dublin City Drugs Crisis Co-Ordinator, he said.

Today he was due to meet with an addiction response group and the Business Safety Forum for the capital.

"I will be telling the business community they must start exerting their rightful influence on the political system to bring about solutions to the begging problem. Retailers, publicans and other businesses need to get the problem solved.



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"As a city, we are dependent on tourist revenue and the begging problem has to be tackled," he said.

Besides the response that he received from Justice Minister Ahern, he said he also met with a senior official from the Department of Justice about the impending legislation.

The Lord Mayor said he believes that the public are right behind him in his campaign and he continues to receive messages of support.

He claimed the capital had been turned into "drug-pushers' paradise" as he called for plans to clear the streets of addicts and dealers alike.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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