'menacing' | 

Dublin café owner says he is ‘at a loss’ over ‘relentless' drug-dealing outside door

Stephen Kennedy revealed there are days he calls Pearse Street Garda Station “six and seven times” but that gardaí are “thin on the ground”

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

A Dublin café owner has spoken out “in an act of desperation” against the “menacing” atmosphere outside his coffee shop in the capital.

Stephen Kennedy told Newstalk Breakfast listeners this morning about his city centre café Copper + Straw, revealing he is “at a loss” about the drug-dealing he says happens right outside the door.

"A little over two months ago I opened my third shop on Aston Quay,” he said, describing the new spot as “smack-bang in the centre of the city”.

"We're nestled in-between Grafton Street and Henry Street - two of the busiest shopping streets in the country - we're on the corner of Temple Bar.

"Pretty much every day, usually from about 11am, groups and gangs of people wearing hooded jackets and scarves pulled up over their faces deal drugs on the corner of Aston Quay right outside my window.

"I am speaking out in an act of desperation, because I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do about it".

The café owner said the “relentless” situation is “menacing” and “bad for the people who are living and working in Temple Bar".

“It's bad for the tourists who get off the bus and walk into my coffee shop, it's bad for the hard-working people of Dublin who want to enjoy their city - and it's bad for business,” he added.

The shop has three locations in Dublin and Wicklow.

Mr Kennedy admitted that with every city centre location there will be “a certain amount of anti-social activity” that needs to be managed, but he told Newstalk Breakfast that his new spot on Aston Quay is a different level.

"We've had a door kicked in, we've had some damage to our property, we've had people smoking heroin in the toilets - but it's very infrequent,” he said before adding the issues there are often resolved with a call to Bridewell garda station.

"I'm not one for jumping up and down, and certainly I hate attracting negative publicity to an area and to my business, but the scale and seriousness of the issues that we're dealing with on Aston Quay, it's beyond my control".

The Dublin business owner revealed there are days he must call Pearse Street Garda Station “six and seven times a day” but that the gardaí are “thin on the ground”.

Despite “doing their absolute best with a very challenging set of circumstances,” Mr Kennedy claimed that sometimes the gardaí do not arrive.

"They can't be everywhere at once.

"It can take a half an hour, it can take an hour, for them to get to us - they may not get to us.

"The phone in Pearse Street may not get answered and to be honest, we could ring Pearse Street 20 or 30 times a day - that's how frequent and that's how persistent the issue is.

"I was here all day yesterday; I didn't see one guard on the street.

"On an average day, we may see two or three guards throughout the day and that's probably on a good day to be honest,” the owner said.

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