Too few gardaí, too many ‘ne’er’ do wells’ in Dublin, city’s most senior official claims

Not enough gardaí to police the capital’s streets, Dublin City Council chief executive Richard Shakespeare says

An Garda Síochána is “under-resourced” to police Dublin’s streets where “ne’er do wells” have become emboldened since the Covid pandemic, Dublin City Council chief executive Richard Shakespeare has said.

In his first interview since the immediate aftermath of the Dublin riots last November, Mr Shakespeare said the capital city could not be “policed on overtime”, and more gardaí, along with the vigilance of agencies working together, were needed to combat far-right elements and thuggery.

Mr Shakespeare was acting chief executive on November 23rd when far-right agitators incited violence, looting and arson attacks in the city, in the wake of the stabbing of three children and a carer on Parnell Square. He was formally appointed to the role one month later.

He spoke of arriving to see burnt-out buses and a Luas tram as the asphalt was still smouldering. “I don’t think there was anyone in Dublin, or throughout the country, who could actually believe what they were seeing. I was quite upset.”


He was “immensely proud” of the work done by council staff in the aftermath.

“The first thing they did, with a view to the potential of it kicking off for a second night, was they collected all the commercial refuse that hadn’t been collected by the commercial operators,” he said. “Once it was safe to do so and the buses were moved they then went about hosing down the streets to get the heat out of the asphalt.”

Extra gardaí were allocated in the immediate aftermath, and particularly around Christmas time, however Mr Shakespeare said resources were “stretched throughout the city”.

“I do believe that the guards are under-resourced in Dublin city. If you were to map the cohort of guards against the population, I would say we’re not doing well on a percentage basis.”

Garda resourcing was a matter for the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner, Mr Shakespeare said, and he believed there was a willingness to tackle the issue, stressing the council had “very positive relationships” with the Garda.

“I think we were all caught off-guard as to what a post-pandemic environment might look like and you might say the ne’er-do-wells feel emboldened.”

The council was developing a city co-ordination office with representation from communities, businesses, Garda and the Health Service Executive, he said.

Demographic changes had bought a “richness to our culture and vitality to the city”, he said. “This narrative of Ireland for the Irish, I don’t subscribe to that at all.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times