Open drug use and city dealing caught on film
GARDAI have honed in on drug dealers operating in broad daylight on the streets of Dublin and detections for possessing drugs for sale or supply have more than trebled this year alone.
Business people have spoken out about the unacceptable level of drug taking they are encountering in the city environs.
And the figures reflect the reality - a total of 567 detections were made from January to August this year compared to 184 in the same period in 2013.
The new figures come as a Prime Time-focused special investigation looked at drug taking and other anti-social behaviour across the capital, particularly during the daytime.
The RTE team used secret cameras to record footage of people taking drugs openly and within metres of tourists and shoppers for last night's programme.
They also found evidence of aggressive begging which businesses say has bought the capital to a 'tipping point'.
In one scene, a secret camera filmed a young man who spent over half-an-hour in a city centre phone box near the Ha'penny Bridge smoking what appeared to be either heroin or crack cocaine.
"Dozens of tourists and shoppers passed by the man, with some spotting he was taking drugs," an RTE representative said. "We didn't observe any garda passing by on patrol during this period."
Hoteliers, restaurant owners and shop keepers are among those who have written to Minister Frances Fitzgerald claiming there are 160 fewer gardai in Dublin's south inner city than five years ago.
The business owners also say the current garda roster prioritising patrol at weekends is not working as the problems are 24/7.
Publican Willie Aherne, who runs the Palace Bar on Fleet Street in Temple Bar, said he was driven to speak out because of sheer frustration.
He described one situation where a customer was accosted by a man who demanded a cigarette.
"He picked up a bottle and threatened to break it over his (the customer's) head," he said.
"We pride ourselves on running a good house, but outside our door on the streets, it's just gone so bad."
Noel Caffrey of CIE Tours based on Abbey Street said the number of gardai patrolling Dublin has diminished as evidenced by the selling, buying and taking of drugs in the area.
"Three or four weeks ago I was accessing the car park in the back of the building and it was 12.30 in the afternoon.
"There were two gents and a lady and they were injecting drugs ... so I had to get out of the car and approach them and ask them to move.
"It was a fairly scary experience. At that hour of the afternoon, it is not something staff or the general public or tourists should have to encounter."
The garda figures also show that the offence of 'simple possession' or possession of drugs for personal use has also seen a dramatic increase.
A total of 561 people were caught for 'simple possession' in Dublin from January to August this year, compared to 273 for same time last year.