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Massive 90pc of us support new begging curbs

NINE out of 10 Dubliners say they are in favour of the country's new anti-begging laws.

The figure of 89pc is a massive endorsement of the legislation, with approval reaching 94pc among 50- to 64-year-olds.

Only 8pc are against the powers, while 3pc of residents don't know.

The figures are contained in research carried out by Millward Brown Lansdowne on behalf of the Herald.

The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act introduced in February has allowed gardai to crack down on organised begging, while anyone begging near ATMs, night safes or shops can be directed to leave the area.

The results of the study are remarkably consistent across all age and income categories.

Control

Approval is lowest among 18- to 24-year-olds and 35- to 49-year-olds but still stands at 87pc for each grouping.

There was more of a variation when the employment status of the respondents was taken into account.

However, there remained an extremely high number of people in favour in each category. The numbers varied from 84pc for the self-employed to 91pc for employees.

The figure stands at 91pc among working men and 88pc among working women. Millward Brown used a sample of 1,000 people aged over 18.

The laws, brought through the Dail by former Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern before his retirement, established a new general law for the control of begging.

New legislation had been deemed necessary after the High Court had found that the old law, dating from 1847, was unconstitutional.

There are two new offences created by the Bill, one of organising and directing begging and one on living off the proceeds. The new offence carries severe penalties of up to five years' jail or a fine of €200,000, or both.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Gerry Breen had strongly supported the measures, saying shoppers and businesses needed to be protected from aggressive forms of begging.

Gardai have been able to implement a "significant" crackdown on begging in Dublin city, councillors have been told.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Micheal Feehan said begging has been "reduced considerably" as a result.

In a report for city councillors, Mr Feehan said: "Arising from this new legislation, I directed that operations were to be put in place to address the begging problem across the city. That operation has involved gardai directing people to desist from begging and in making arrests in appropriate cases."