Sgt Mary Gilmartin, Sgt Laura Dragoi and Garda Sean Aspel
Kilkenny has become one of the biggest social hubs at weekends on the island of Ireland.
Hundreds of revellers are bussed in to enjoy a night out from nearby urban centres while thousands flock to the Marble City to marvel at its medieval gems and savour good food and hospitality in the city’s award-winning restaurants and pubs.
It is somewhat remarkable considering this that the rate of assaults in Kilkenny City has dropped by 27% compared to other urban areas across the country where the rate of assaults has significantly increased.
When compared to 2017 figures in April, June and November were down 66%.
Operation City Safe was launched last April and has been hugely successful to date. Every Friday and Saturday night gardaí are strategically positioned across the city in the high profile operation. City Safe also operates on Bank Holiday Sundays.
Superintendent Derek Hughes told the Kilkenny People that as part of the Operation up to 20 gardaí are deployed on public safety duties. There are also public order vans positioned in high visibility areas and officers are positioned on High Street, Rose Inn Street and John Street.
“The reaction from the business community is very positive and our public representatives have also recorded their satisfaction publicly at the initiative. The vintners also engage with us and will continue to do so throughout 2019 which will help to sustain the momentum to keep Kilkenny safe. We also have great support and co-operation from security staff and taxi drivers,” added the Supt.
Sergeant Laura Dragoi was at the Parade on Friday night along with a number of colleagues and the public order van. She is there most weekends and said that she has ‘seen a real difference’ since the Operation was launched.
“It is all about positive early interaction and creating a feeling of safety. We are present and visible and approachable to the public. From our perspective we want to prevent crime rather than have to investigate and prosecute.”
A bouncer in one of the city’s most popular watering holes was also full of praise for the Operation.
“There has been a huge change and this makes all our lives way easier. When people come out onto the streets and are full of drink they think twice because they can see the gardaí. I have seen a massive difference over the past six months and I have no doubt that their presence is contributing massively to a safer environment for people to socialise in,” he added.
Kilkenny is also in the process of applying for Purple Flag Standard, a European wide initiative that recognises an area as a safe and welcoming place to socialise.