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Too few gardaí, too many “non-wells” in Dublin, the city’s most senior official claims

An Garda Síochána is “not adequately equipped” to police the streets of Dublin, where “nobody workers” have been encouraged since the Covid pandemic, Dublin City Council chief executive Richard Shakespeare has said.

In his first interview since the riots in Dublin last November, Shakespeare said the capital could not be “policed ​​overtime” and more gardaí and the vigilance of cooperating authorities were needed to combat far-right elements and violence.

Mr Shakespeare was acting chief executive on November 23 when far-right agitators incited violence, looting and arson attacks in the city after three children and a carer were stabbed in Parnell Square. He was officially appointed to the position a month later.

He told of arriving to see burned-out buses and a Luas tram while the tarmac was still smoldering. “I don’t think there was anyone in Dublin or anywhere in the country who could really believe what they were seeing. I was pretty upset.”

He was “very proud” of the work the council staff did in the period that followed.

“The first thing they did with the possibility of a second night was to collect all the commercial waste that had not been collected by the commercial operators,” he said. “As soon as it was safe to do so and the buses were moving, they began hosing down the roads to remove the heat from the asphalt.”

Additional gardaí were assigned immediately afterwards, and particularly at Christmas time, but Mr Shakespeare said resources were “exhausted across the city”.

“I believe that the guards in Dublin city are not adequately equipped. If you were to map the Guard cohort relative to the population, I would say we are not doing well as a percentage.”

Providing resources to the Garda was a matter for the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner, Shakespeare said, and he believed there was a willingness to address the issue, stressing that the council had a “very positive relationship” with the Garda.

“I think we’ve all been surprised at what a post-pandemic environment might look like, and you could say the ne’er-do-wells are feeling emboldened.”

The council was in the process of setting up a city co-ordination office with representatives from communities, businesses, Garda and the health department, he said.

The demographic change has “enriched our culture and made the city more lively,” he said. “This narrative of Ireland for the Irish, I don’t agree with that at all.”

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