Dublin tourist attack: Gardaí following ‘significant lines of inquiry’ after assault on American

Gardaí say they are following “significant lines of inquiry” following an attack on a US tourist in Dublin city centre on Wednesday night which left him with life-changing injuries.

The 57-year-old victim had just left his accommodation in the Celt Lodge guesthouse on Talbot Street in Dublin’s north inner city, where he had been socialising, and was walking to another pub when he encountered a group of youths. He was then attacked.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe met with Assistant Commissioner for the Dublin Metropolitan Region Angela Willis and Store Street Chief Superintendent Paddy McMenamin on Thursday afternoon to discuss the attack and policing in the city centre.

Both Ministers insisted that they believe Dublin city centre to be safe.

Assistant Commissioner Willis said gardaí are confident that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

“In relation to the investigation, we have made significant progress. We are following significant lines of inquiry and I’m very confident that we will bring the perpetrators of this horrendous crime before the justice system.”

She confirmed that the man suffered serious injuries and said gardai arrived on the scene “within seconds”.

Asked why no one has been arrested yet, she said “there are a number of steps we need to take. We’re in the evidence gathering stage of the investigation at the minute and when we have sufficient evidence to justify an arrest, I’m very confident that we will make arrests.” She said the attack was not pre-meditated.

The Assistant Commissioner said that gardaí have conducted over 10,500 foot patrols since January of this year in the city centre area as part of Operation Citizen. Some 20,000 prosecutions have been inititated. Some 8.6 million euros worth of drugs were also seized.

Asked if gardaí have enough resources, she said “we’re never going to say wouldn’t like more resources, but we have ample resources in this area”.

In terms of the number of public order offences and assaults, she said the figures are on a par this year in comparison to last year.

Assistant Commissioner Willis said Talbot Street and the city centre are “absolutely” safe areas to walk around. “It is a safe city. It’s a vibrant city. I can give that reassurance that we are out there and we have a visible presence.”

Speaking after her meeting An Garda, Ms McEntee said they discussed both the attack on the tourist and policing in the city centre.

“I just want to wish nothing but the best for that gentleman. This was a vicious, unprovoked attack that should not have happened. The first response by the gardai is to make sure that those who are responsible are brought to justice and that is happening and work is underway to ensure that that happens.”

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe described the incident as an “awful assault.”

He pointed towards the opening of a new garda station on O’Connell Street. “I can see the effect that is having O’Connell Street myself, as it’s based in my constituency.”

Asked what her plan is in light of the incident, Ms McEntee there are a number of elements.

“Firstly, it’s making sure that we have the resources on the ground and obviously ensuring that we have as many members, as many new gardaí on the ground going through Templemore. While the numbers have not been to the level that I would like this year, we can see that steady increase.”

She also listed investing in new technology and equipment, including new garda cars and bikes; community partnerships and working with the local authority; and changing laws and increasing penalties for those types of assaults.

“Separate to that we’re working on legislation that would bring in body worn cameras to support and keep our gardaí safe, but also to help enhance CCTV around the town.”

Ms McEntee also indicated that the age for recruitment could increase beyond 35 in an effort boost the force.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the business group Dublin town said there should be a return of measures that deter antisocial behaviour in Dublin city centre.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, Richard Guiney said: “We do need to bring back what we were doing that was successful. We’ve been advocating for doing the right thing for a number of years. And I’m very disappointed that some of the things that were working ceased to be implemented.”

Mr Guiney said that post pandemic there seemed to be more aggressive behaviour among young people “who don’t know how to behave themselves”.

The “drug of choice” had changed from heroin to crack cocaine which meant drug users were “more on edge”, he also said.

“We’ve been here before and we have addressed successfully before many of the issues that are arising … The Small Areas Policing was very successful. That was where guards were assigned responsibility for particular parts of the city. That was a very good initiative,” Mr Guiney said.

“It’s not only a policing issue. I think we also need to consider the very high levels of concentration of social services within the core city and particularly around the Talbot Street area.” Mr Guiney said best international practice reports indicated that overconcentration of such services for vulnerable people facilitated drug dealing.

In Wednesday night’s attack at Talbot Place, which is between Talbot Street and Store Street, words were exchanged before the gang started kicking and punching the victim, including as he lay on the ground, in what sources described as an “entirely unprovoked” attack.

The man was taken to Beaumont Hospital where he is being treated in intensive care. Doctors believe he received a number of kicks to the head. A source described his injuries as “life-changing but not life-threatening”.

Gardaí are confident they have identified at least one of the three attackers. The gang, believed to live in the local area, is suspected of being involved in other recent assaults in the area.


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