Travellers have levelled accusations of racial profiling at gardaí and the City Council over the policing and after CCTV cameras were installed near their halting site.
The Irish Examiner has learned that it costs €1,273 a day to maintain the Garda presence, which has been in place since last June at the St Anthony’s Park group housing scheme in Hollyhill on the northside of the city.
Work started on the scheme last summer to replace the city council’s St Anthony’s Park 12-bay halting site, which is home to about 70 people, including 30 children.
Gardaí were deployed at the building site a short time later after claims of threats and intimidation being directed at construction and city council workers.
However, the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) said that it has no knowledge of any alleged threats or intimidation directed at construction workers and city officials.
Gardaí have rejected Traveller claims that they are providing a private security service on the building site, and insist that their presence is a “crime prevention patrol” in the area to ensure there is no intimidation of staff working on the building site.
They said gardaí are on non-public overtime, which does not come out of the city’s policing budget, and the Department of Environment is funding the patrols.
However, Traveller advocates described the garda presence on the building site as “highly irregular”.
They also criticised the decision to install a five-camera CCTV system close to the existing halting site and the new group housing scheme.
Halting site residents told their community worker, Thomas Erbsloh, that the CCTV system is “intrusive, oppressive, and an invasion of privacy”.
They also claimed the CCTV constitutes “a form of racial profiling of Traveller residents by the gardaí” — a claim denied by gardaí.
Mr Erbsloh said that he has tried to raise the CCTV issue at meetings of the city’s Joint Policing Committee, without success, and has also tried to inspect planning files in relation to the CCTV system, but is meeting a “brick wall”.
He renewed calls last night for the system to be dismantled.
The new housing scheme, which is almost ready, will feature nine bays and seven one- and four-bedroom bungalows, each with fitted kitchens and fitted wardrobes in the bedrooms.
The council hopes the scheme will be occupied in June.