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'Like clockwork every year': Dublin's seaside towns once again hit by spate of anti-social behaviour

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 16/05/2021 Garreth MacNamee
a group of people walking down a sidewalk next to a dog: Gardaai from Raheny on high visibility patrols in recent days providing support to Irish Rail on the Bayside to Howth Dart line. © RollingNews.ie Gardaai from Raheny on high visibility patrols in recent days providing support to Irish Rail on the Bayside to Howth Dart line.

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR has become an unwanted yet predictable problem in pockets of coastal north county Dublin and the locals are sick of it. 

Drinking, open drug taking, assaults, threats and racist language have become commonplace along stretches of the northside coast during the late spring and summer months, according to the many people we spoke to on a visit to the area this week.

A video shared on social media earlier this month showing a young woman falling between the tracks and a Dart at Howth Junction after apparently being intimidated by a group of teenage boys also enraged people living in these communities.

Three boys were arrested in relation to this incident on Thursday morning, and have since been released without charge.  

This week, The Journal travelled to Howth, Malahide and Sutton to speak to residents in these communities who said they are “fed up” with the behaviour which they say starts “like clockwork” once the warmer weather arrives. 

The locals we spoke to said they wanted to see more gardaí “on the beat”, walking around areas where it is known underage drinkers congregate. 

Others pleaded for a dedicated transport police service which they said would ensure safety on all modes of travel. 

More and more videos are being shared online showing incidences of groups of teenagers carrying out apparent assaults and intimidating locals. 

Last weekend, another video showed a brawl involving over 20 young people in the Malahide. Garda public order units have been dispatched to the area on several occasions in recent weeks to deal with the influx of anti-social behaviour.

The latest video, seen by The Journal, shows a young girl being headbutted by a teenage boy in Malahide. The video emerged this week but it is unclear as to when the incident actually occurred. 

David Healy, councillor for Howth and mayor of Fingal County Council, described how such anti-social behaviour began rearing its head around five years ago. 

a man standing in front of a body of water: Mayor David Healy. Mayor David Healy.

“No town is immune from anti-social behaviour but we noticed an increase in what has been happening in the last five years. I think it has become a place where young people are congregating.

“There’s nothing wrong with having young people hanging out. But it’s when there is a significant amount of people drinking and engaging in threatening behaviour that we can’t tolerate.

“There is a lot of concern over attacks on strangers and passersby. This isn’t new. It’s all along our coastal towns in the early summer and people are really concerned that the level of violence and the risks are very serious. The chances are that if this continues someone will be seriously injured or worse. It is a big issue.

“We have had a process developed by gardaí that they have intervened on the public transport system and that has been effective. We need to see more gardaí out on the streets. The presence of gardaí on our streets is the key thing. It’s been left to normal passersby to intervene which is itself dangerous.”

Jonathan Cooke owns the local newsagent Anne’s. He told TheJournal he is “sick to his back teeth” dealing with what he described as “gangs of young people”.

“They’re out there drinking, doing drugs, fighting, throwing cans at people, jumping into the water in the nude. They’ve also been heard shouting racist things at people as well. For me, I just can’t take them. 

“It’s about to kick off again when the kids are out of school. The amount of drink they bring with them is unreal. We need more gardaí big time. I am highly critical of the gardaí but I still want more of them. On Saturday and Sunday, we could have 5,000 or 6,000 people here and there is no garda presence there are no gardaí on the beat.  Visibility is key,” Cooke added.

a group of people walking down a sidewalk next to a dog: Gardaai from Raheny on high visibility patrols in recent days providing support to Irish Rail on the Bayside to Howth Dart line. © RollingNews.ie Gardaai from Raheny on high visibility patrols in recent days providing support to Irish Rail on the Bayside to Howth Dart line.

Outside Malahide Dart Station on Wednesday afteroon, people were enjoying the sunshine.

The schools had just let out and parents were picking up their kids. Emma Brennan told The Journal she was horrified to see the videos of violence in the area.

“It’s the same thing every single year,” she said.

“My kids are only young so they’re not out on their own. But they’re only a couple of years away from being teenagers. I don’t want this happening still by then.”

Gardaí confirmed they are investigating multiple incidences of assault and intimidation in the area.

Head of communications for Irish Rail, Barry Kenny, told The Journal that they are working very closely with gardaí on reducing anti-social behaviour on the Dart line. 

“We have significantly increased both security presence and joint operations with the gardaí, both on an ongoing basis through the Covid-19 pandemic and in recent weeks.

“In the incident at Howth Junction at the start of April, security were on site removing a group from the train at the time, and we alerted Gardai immediately as to what had occurred.”

Irish Rail said it has also undertaken extensive operations with gardaí in recent weeks in stations in this area, including Howth Junction.

“These operations will continue over the coming weeks and months as a proactive measure to deter groups from gathering in such a manner, either in stations or onboard trains. 

“Our security monitoring centre personnel are also working extremely well with gardaí on incident response, and collectively these measures have seen an increase in interventions to prevent anti-social behaviour impacting on our customers,” Kenny added.

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