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Tourist spot ‘difficult to police’

Wednesday, 12th June, 2019 5:10pm

Urgent efforts are being made to clean up a popular southside tourist area dogged by street drinking issues in recent years.

Gardaí are ramping up efforts to tackle problems on Keyser’s Road, a tourist hotspot during the summer due to its proximity to attractions like Elizabeth Fort and the iconic St Finbarre’s Cathedral.

Speaking to the Cork Independent at a community forum this week, Community Garda Peter O’Riordan said residents in the area had raised fears over persistent street drinking and antisocial behaviour in the area, which is also the former home of the Barrack Street garda station, which closed in 2013.

Garda O’Riordan said two members from the force’s antisocial behaviour unit had begun to target the area as a prime patrol location heading into the summer season, when thousands of visitors are expected to arrive Leeside.

“You get a lot of people visiting who might go and see the fort and the cathedral together, as they are so close,” he said.

“Obviously with now being the start of the busier tourist season in Cork, we need to get a handle on it.

“We want visiting Cork to be a comfortable experience for foreign tourists and people coming in this summer, as well as for residents, and we’ll be keeping a very close eye on it.”

He said the issues in the area were primarily alcohol-related, though he did not rule out the possibility that it might be attractive for drug users given its secluded setting.

“We’re seeing recurring instances of drinking, particularly during day time hours. Residents nearby often need to walk through that spot to get home, which is why we’ve needed to look at it.”

Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle said problems had increased in the area in recent years since the closure of the Garda station.

“There’s been a lack of direct police presence there since, and it’s obviously more difficult to police it from Anglesea Street and Bridewell. That means there’s more scope for using the alleyways for antisocial behaviour,” he said.

“It’s not particularly well lit, and people wouldn’t be encouraged to be taking shortcuts through there at night.

“I’d imagine it’s traditionally been a difficult place to police, but the reality is that antisocial behaviour moves to where Gardaí can less easily access it.”

A spokesperson for Cork City Council, which manages Elizabeth Fort, said the attraction had “not experienced any antisocial problems”.

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