Helen McEntee vows more gardaí after homophobic attack on rugby player in Dublin
Ms McEntee says she “wants to increase garda numbers, full stop”
Justice Minister Helen McEntee has vowed to increase garda numbers following a suspected homophobic attack on a young rugby player in Dublin city centre at the weekend.
Ms McEntee said she planned to discuss street policing with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and “wants to increase garda numbers, full stop” in the wake of the “appalling” attack, saying: “It shouldn’t have happened.”
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar led the condemnation of the suspected homophobic attack on Evan Somers (23), who was hospitalised with multiple injuries, including a fractured eye socket and ankle fractures, following the incident in the Dame Street area in the early hours of Sunday.
Mr Somers wrote on Twitter that a stranger had used homophobic slurs against him before attacking him
He wrote: “Last night a stranger called me a f***ot before beating the s*** out of me. He left me with a fractured eye socket, two fractures in my ankle, a dislocation in my ankle and some minor injuries.
“We’ve come a long way but still have such a long way to go in terms of equality.
“Genuinely didn’t share this for attention, I felt like it needed to be seen instead of hidden away because this is the reality of what so many LGBTQ+ people go through regularly and if it makes you uncomfortable, maybe it should.”
Mr Varadkar said he was “appalled” by the incident and said he planned to discuss it with Ms McEntee.
In a post on Twitter yesterday, he wrote: “Shocked and appalled that an assault of this nature occurred in our capital city. Will discuss with Helen McEntee re garda presence on our street and new hate crime laws. Sorry about what happened. Wishing you a swift recovery.”
Singer Boy George also condemned the attack in a post on Twitter.
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Mr Somers is a member of Emerald Warriors RFC, Ireland’s first LGBT+ inclusive rugby team.
In a statement on Twitter, the team said it was “devastated” by the attack.
Reacting, Ms McEntee said: “I am utterly appalled by what happened.
“Anybody who has seen the tweet and the pictures of what happened to this poor gentleman, it shouldn’t have happened.
“Whoever is responsible, we need to make sure the gardaí are allowed to carry out their work and hopefully somebody will be apprehended.
“I have spoken to the Tánaiste about this, he has raised it with me, but I’ve also spoken to the Garda Commissioner in recent weeks about Dublin City and about Operation Citizen, which was put in place just last year where we have over 500 additional garda hours every week.
“I want to increase garda numbers, full stop, and the fact that we have funding for 800 garda recruits this year, that’s a start, and however the Garda Commissioner deploys them is obviously a matter for the commissioner.”
In a statement to the Sunday World, gardaí confirmed they are investigating the incident.
They are also appealing for any witnesses to the attack to contact Pearse Street garda station on 01 6669000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.
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