Businesses demand blitz on street drinking and intimidating beggars

Drinking on the corner of High Street and Mainguard Street.

Business owners in Galway have called for a crackdown on illegal drinking and intimidating begging in the city in the run up to Christmas – with many fearing an adverse effect on business and reputation if no action is taken.

On Wednesday, a meeting of over 60 business owners was told that a lack of law and order is risking thousands of jobs by making the city an unattractive place to shop and socialise.

Businesses in areas such as the intersection between Mainguard Street and High Street, as well as Quay Street, Shop Street and William Street and Eyre Square are falling foul of people drinking outside their premises from early morning and right through the day.

As a result, Chairperson of Galway Business Watch, David Greeley, says that local businesses want to be proactive and call a halt to repeated instances of drunkards causing havoc outside people’s places of work.

“We want to stress that we are not talking about homeless people here – this is about drinking and begging and we are looking for a workable solution.

“People are saying there is a lack of patrols; that they are calling and getting no response; and that they see Gardaí going up and down the street and nothing is being done,” said Mr Greeley.

The business owners want a policy introduced whereby all alcohol being consumed on the streets be destroyed.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Peter Keane – a practising solicitor – referred to the City Council drinking bylaws introduced in 2015 and suggested that there were options available to Gardaí to tackle the problem.

“In relation to drinking in public, I sat down and drafted the drinking bylaws and in conjunction with my fellow councillors, we passed those bylaws. The single biggest tool we have given Gardaí is the ability to destroy the drink.”

This statement was met by rapturous applause in the room. Sergeant Peadar Ryan of Galway Community Gardaí said that they would check the legality of the practice.

In relation to begging, Garda Inspector Karen Maloney said that, to a certain extent, there is a limitation to what they can do, as begging must be deemed intimidating to be unlawful – however, she believed that many of the cases warranted Garda action.
For the full report from the meeting, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.