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Where is the Dublin I used to love?
Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

X/@adrianweckler

Where is the Dublin I used to love?


Amanda Cassidy doesn't recognise the city where she grew up anymore.

I thought my city and I had each other’s backs. I thought we had an understanding. For decades, I’ve commuted in and out of the city centre, firstly for secondary school and then for college and work. Never once did I falter or fear for my safety as I dodged past bin trucks in the mornings as the city woke up, or waited in line for a taxi late at night. I trusted my city. I loved it.

But now, there’s a new edge to Dublin that I don’t recognise. November 23rd’s abhorrent violence gave me chills. Images of our city in flames as children lie injured in hospital were beamed across the world. This wasn’t political ideology or activism, this was opportunism by thugs to loot and destroy. This menacing air has prevailed since the pandemic where a lawlessness has emerged. Last night people were terrorised as they tried to make their way through our capital city; tourists, Gardaí, ordinary members of the public all equally horrified by the tragedy that unfolded in Parnell Square just hours before.

The danger here is the narrative of radical nationalism that we saw recently outside Leinster House, where footage was shared by many shouting cries of ‘this is only the beginning’.

But it has been slowly brewing. Now I clutch my bag to my chest as I walk quickly down lanes where I’ve parked my car in certain areas of the city. I don’t feel as welcome in the place where I’ve called home for so long.

I’ve grown up against the backdrop of the Liffey. I had my heart broken outside Trinity College and drowned my exam sorrows off Dame Street. I celebrated my first promotion in this town and had my first date with my husband in one of its many basement cocktail bars.

Our family name sits over the business that’s been passed down generations of publicans a stone’s throw from the capital’s hub. We bring our international friends and American cousins around pointing out the landmarks, usually bursting with pride.

This violence has now ensured that the issue of crime in Dublin City centre is very much the focus of headlines rather than the poor injured children.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has strongly condemned the riots, repeating that “such violence has no place in our society”. However, for those living and working in the city centre, and those visiting as tourists, having a place where they feel safe is crucial. Action is needed. Change is needed.

Dublin feels grubby. Its culture is overshadowed by phone shops and sports stores, gum on the ground, overflowing bins, cracked pavements, badly designed infrastructure, and tacky souvenir shops. As a tourist landing in this capital city, there’s no clear path on where to go, except the Guinness Factory or Trinity College. I’m not sure I’d even bring my foreign friends here now.

Yes, the crime is a problem, but so too is Dublin’s ability to provide for its inhabitants. The issue of Garda resources will inevitably crop up in light of these events.

How do we ensure this doesn’t happen again?

I want my children to love their city as much as I did, and hopefully will again. I want them to feel safe. I’d like them to be proud. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Photography by X/@adrianweckler.