Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Roderic O’Gorman has said “significant assaults” in parts of Dublin will cause concern to tourists and local communities – but that community work is ongoing to address anti-social behaviour.
It comes after the US Embassy in Dublin issued a warning to visiting tourists to “keep a low profile” in the wake of serious assaults in the capital, including on a US tourist and a Ukrainian actor.
Stephen Termini, a US tourist aged in his 50s, was injured in an attack on Talbot Street in Dublin last week while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met and apologised to actor Oleksandr Hrekov after he required stitches following an assault.
A banner has appeared across the Dublin embassy’s website on Wednesday which warns US tourists on how to be safe.
The embassy advises “all citizens to be aware of their surroundings” and warns against walking alone, especially when it is dark.
It warns against wearing or having expensive items on show and states that valuables should not be placed in outer pockets on backpacks.
It comes after calls for more gardaí on Dublin’s streets to help people feel safer and limit the number of unprovoked attacks.
This week, Mr Varadkar has said this year’s target of recruiting 1,000 new members to An Garda Siochana (the Irish police), would be a challenge, but there was a need to be “tough on public order offences”.
He said people are being “attacked all the time” on Irish streets, which is “not something we can accept”.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Mr O’Gorman said his department has brought forward “significant measures” on youth supports and that youth diversion projects are seen as “extremely successful” in diverting children who may have an initial offence away from custodial sentences and from subsequent reoffending.
“Undoubtedly there has been some very significant assaults in an area of our inner city, and I’ve no doubt that causes real concern to people travelling through those parts of the city, but most importantly to the communities living there.
“That’s why my department is, for example, part of the north inner city initiative that operates to support children, support young people and support communities across the north inner city, all the way from greater investment in early years services towards supporting youth work and youth services in that area.”
He said community safety partnerships, which will replace the joint policing schemes, will also be “a much more structured way” for Gardai to engage with the community and voluntary area.
He also said the Government’s approach was across a “number of grounds”, including an increased Garda presence.
“I think there is a very strong focus on all elements of the response to these incidents.
“I think perhaps maybe some more of the media focus is probably on the Garda numbers, but government’s response is on all elements, and particularly in terms of the social supports needed to assist.”