All Dubliners are sick to the back teeth of boozed up Temple Bar
IT was heralded as Dublin's answer to New York's Times Square or Paris' Left Bank.
A sophisticated public space that would be a hub for culture and the arts. A vibrant and exciting pedestrianised centre that would offer entertainment in a relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Fast-forward 20 years, and duck – because that's an empty beer bottle flying past your head.
Instead of becoming a cultural hub, Temple Bar resembles more an open air drunk-tank – at night at least.
Since the 90s the area has become afflicted after hours by drunken, loutish, anti-social behaviour, not to mention drug use.
After nightfall it's not a place for the faint-hearted.
Despite the best efforts of the gardai there appears to be little change. Week in, week out Dublin District Court deals with case upon case of late-night public order incidents emanating from the area.
The situation is so bad that last week Judge Hugh O'Donnell, who deals with many of these cases, commented: "I'm fed up to the back teeth with Temple Bar at 1.55am." I wasn't surprised by the judge's remarks and I can only imagine his frustration.
Judge O'Donnell was commenting on the case of a young man who tried to headbutt a garda after being arrested outside a nightclub in the area.
The case was typical of so many others we read of every week within these pages.
In truth Temple Bar at night, or large swathes of the district, have deteriorated to such an extent that no ordinary law-abiding Dubliner feels safe there.
Most weekends gardai are stretched to deal with incidents in the area.
It's clearly under-policed to an alarming degree if the lawlessness read of in court reports is to be believed.
There is an urgent need to beef up the police presence in the area at weekends.
As it stands the public order unit is being regularly deployed there – surely the only place in the country where this is deemed necessary.
Dublin City Council is reportedly considering funding their own anti-social behaviour "squad" to deal with the deteriorating situation in Temple Bar. It's hard to see how they'll succeed if the gardai themselves are often overrun.
But there's another way of tackling the Temple Bar problem.
In order to curb the anti-social behaviour the garda authorities should seek a reduction in the number of pubs licensed in the area – or even a restriction on the opening hours of existing pubs and clubs.
One thing is clear. An effective and urgent response is now needed from all the parties in involved if the tarnished reputation of Temple Bar is to be cleaned up.