A GOVERNMENT politician has revealed that he is "too afraid" to walk down O'Connell Street on his own because of the extreme level of drug dealing and violence.
Veteran Fine Gael senator Tom Sheahan believes the city's best-known street has "gone to hell" and is no longer a place for "tourists and families".
The Cork politician says the issues of open-air drug dealing and street drinking have spiralled out of control, adding that he has brought the issue to the attention of the Garda Commissioner.
"The place has gone to hell -- open-air drug dealing, drinking in public, violence, the lot," he told the Herald.
"I won't walk down O'Connell Street on my own anymore. I am appealing to the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to step in -- things are out of control," he added.
O'Connell Street and the surrounding areas has become a filthy nest for addicts, dealers and low-life criminals -- who are causing misery for businesses and city residents.
Gardai are struggling to cope with the extraordinary level of drug dealing and binge drinking that is horrifying our tourists.
An estimated 1,500 heroin users roam the inner city every week after receiving their dose of methadone in one of six clinics.
Gardai on patrol admitted that they are forced to wear stab-proof vests because of the dangers posed to them by out-of-control junkies and alcoholics.
"The summer is always the worst time as addicts congregate and drink on the street due to the warm weather. We have to wear our stab-proof vests because of the dangers they pose. It's an extremely difficult place to patrol," one officer told us.
A number of taxi drivers too told the Herald that their safety is being put at risk by drug addicts roaming the streets.
"Working here has always been difficult. But the level of drug taking has just blown out of control. We are all on guard working here -- we know these people are dangerous when they've taken a substance."