I welcome the opportunity to raise on the Adjournment the apparent ongoing incidents of unprovoked and random attacks, on young men in particular, on the streets and in the suburbs of Dublin. Will the Minister outline the most up-to-date information available on this phenomenon as it is important that we are clear on the scale of the problem? It may be the case that some attacks go unreported.
It appears common to hear stories of young people being attacked on their way home after a night out and the level of violence in some of these incidents is alarming. This week I was contacted by a parent whose son had been attacked on Rathmines Road. He was returning home from a night out with some friends but was unable to get a taxi and suffered a completely unprovoked attack in which his front teeth were knocked out. He had never seen his attackers before and had no conversation with them before the attack. I have heard of similar incidents in Temple Bar and other areas of Dublin. Another 16 year old boy was threatened with a needle in a DART station on his way home after the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The stories go on. It appears that everyone has a story to tell about such incidents.
I am aware that in my constituency there was a decrease in muggings and handbag snatching some time ago. I believed at the time that the provision of drug treatment clinics was easing the problem, and this was to be welcomed. This phenomenon of attacks, predominantly on young men, appears to be increasing. These attacks are a source of concern and deserve attention. On the one hand I do not want to alarm young people and parents but on the other we must have safe streets in our city centre and suburbs. They should not become no-go areas, as has happened in other countries. Our young people should be safe in our major urban centres and suburbs and if this problem is emerging on a serious scale measures must be put in place to interrupt it before it gets out of control. There is a need for an integrated approach which includes co-ordination of video surveillance, increased night-time Garda patrols and the provision of more taxis and late night transport facilities.
The question must be asked whether these attacks are linked to more vulnerable, out-of-control, anti-social young people and adults not getting the service they need because of low numbers of probation and welfare officers and the lack of specialist units. The high availability and accessibility to drugs by young people in Dublin needs to be addressed in a proactive and co-ordinated way. There is evidence that adolescents in Dublin are engaging in higher levels of substance abuse than young people in other cities. These attacks may well be one of the consequences of this as well as alcohol abuse. Will the Minister report to the House on the matter? I thank him for being present to reply to the debate.