I had to look up at the senior garda when he said the words: “bordering on oppressive policing”.
Did he really say that, I thought to myself and had a quick look at those also sitting in the august chamber in City Hall, where Dublin City Council’s joint policing committee for the central area was meeting.
They’re words more likely to be used by Shell to Sea protestors. But, no. Here was a chief superintendent in charge of the Dublin north central police division uttering the words. The reason? Well, Pat Leahy was stressing to assembled politicians and community reps that gardai could do no more to clamp down on drug dealing, using and drug-related nuisance in the city centre. Gardai had conducted more than 9,000 drug searches on people already this year – more than twice for the whole of last year.
He went on to say that Dublin city centre was a “far safer” place than last year, which was safer than the previous year. He listed off a range of stats, from assaults to public disorder to weapons possession, which were all down.
Some politicians, while not doubting the figures given by the chief, who has a reputation for hard work and good analysis, pointed out that the general public did not share his views on safety levels.