A constant garda presence in the inner-city suburb of Dolphin's Barn has forced drug dealers, who have been intimidating locals, to move their business to under the Rialto bridge on the Grand Canal.
Tensions remain high in the Dolphin House complex and locals fear that as soon as gardaí leave, the community will again be targeted in violent attacks.
This weekend, at the entrance of the estate that houses 1,000 residents, a garda stops and checks all the cars. As the Sunday Tribune takes photos of the scene, it is advised to "f**k off" from residents involved in criminality watching from nearby windows.
There are four main drug dealers living in the Dolphin House flats complex who, up until two weeks ago, had several teenagers selling their heroin and cocaine in the stairwell of the complex and around the area. But the implementation of a 24-hour garda patrol, which has the support of the majority of the local community, has curtailed the drug-dealing.
Two of then main dealers do not use drugs themselves and are allegedly behind the damage of up to 30 cars two weeks ago, where tyres were slashed and acid poured over them. The pair are also believed to made a bomb scare threat outside a community centre in Dolphin's Barn a few days earlier. Within days of that incident, a woman was wounded when another woman attacked her with a key. This was also linked to the dispute over drug-dealing.
It is understood the victim, whose injuries were not serious, was involved in criminality and was targeted because of anger over residents' cars being vandalised.
The intimidation began when drug dealers blamed the local community for the erection of a wall at the back of the housing complex that stopped addicts coming in. "It used to be terrible. There would be kids out playing and addicts would be roaming around trying to score. The gardaí being here all the time now has given us a bit of respite but if they leave, we're afraid what might happen," said a local resident.
A garda source said the four main drug dealers have had their homes searched since the recent trouble but no significant drugs finds were made. One of the dealers was prosecuted for selling heroin on three separate occasions recently and only received a four-month sentence. "He was back out on the streets in no time. The younger guys see this and think it's worth the risk," he said.
The local community is also angry because of the damage done to property, and there is talk of retaliation.
In 1999, semi-invalid heroin addict Josie Dwyer (41) was beaten to death by an anti-drugs parents mob in Dolphin's Barn.
"Cool heads are required to move things forward. The local people are understandably angry and are quite capable of expressing their anger," said Labour councillor Eric Byrne, who is director of the Dolphin House Community Development Association.
Next month, the local tenancy agreement will be updated and drug-dealing will be listed as a specific offence in a bid to evict some of the dealers.
"Hopefully, that will get some of them out. There is great community spirit here and the vast majority of people are law-abiding," he added.
Lord mayor of Dublin Eibhlin Byrne, who has met with Dolphin's Barn community representatives, said that Dublin communities will not be intimidated by groups of mindless thugs intent on wreaking havoc. "The situation in Dolphin House will simply not be tolerated. And if these gangs think they can terrorise people with no recriminations, they should think again. I will be monitoring the situation for the next five weeks and working with the people who live in this area in an effort to put a stop to any form of bullying or harassment of locals," she said.
Rory Hearne, regeneration officer with the Dolphin House Community Development Association, said there is "huge fear" among locals at the moment and that the long-mooted regeneration plans need to be implemented.
"If regeneration does not happen here, things will only get worse. The fear is that the most stable residents will leave and the vulnerable residents will stay," he said.
"It will become a sink estate. During the Celtic Tiger years, this area was neglected and we're paying the price now."
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That's how we fight drugs in this country...we move the pushers to a new area..
As you can see it is very effective. Let's congratulate ourselves !!