Retail workers and business are crying out for coordinated garda engagement, greater visible policing presence in communities and changes to law to protect workers.

13 December 2023
  • Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment hearings today met with retail business and representatives of RGDATA, Musgraves and CSNA.
  • Labour’s Worker’s Rights spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock said today it is critical that An Garda Síochána and the Government respond to the cry for help.

Senator Sherlock said:

“For years now, retail workers and their union Mandate have been calling for updated laws to better protect retail workers. This morning, retail businesses in Dublin’s north inner city told us of the persistent scourge of shoplifting, of the racial, physical and verbal abuse inflicted on a daily basis on workers, with migrant workers often singled out and targeted.

“Retailers also told us of ad hoc or non-existent relationships with senior management in An Garda Síochána even where it is known that the retail outlet is a place of high frequency shoplifting. They told us of collapsed initiatives with community gardaí and long delays in response to incidents.

“From my meetings with families of Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire and local residents and businesses in the inner city last week along with the presentations made to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment today we know there is a desperate need for a coordinated policing response with communities and businesses.

“Since the shocking events of Nov 23rd, there has been a welcome increased Garda presence on the ground but there is a huge concern on the ground that this is temporary, that gardaí have been allocated from elsewhere and the current garda levels will not be in place beyond Christmas.

“The reality is that a strong visible policing presence is hugely important to re-instil confidence and a sense of safety in the inner city for children going to school, workers, families going about their business and for businesses in the area. Unfortunately we have 10% less gardaí in Dublin’s north central area compared to six years ago and there has been a dramatic drop in the number of community gardaí in the area.

“We need to see Business Watch initiatives set up between local businesses and senior Gardaí similar to that established in Phibsborough in Dublin 7 in 2019 to ensure that there is  to ensure that there is ongoing and regular communication between businesses and gardaí to combat repeat offending, improve safety and security of workers and businesses.

“While Operation Táirge was launched by An Garda Síochana this past week to target organised retail crime in high value retail premises, there is also a major concern for food and convenience stores where shoplifting is also a big issue.

“We believe that the Government must take immediate action to address the growing concerns of businesses and retail workers in the community. Responding to this scourge requires greater gardaí in our communities, a clear line of communication with local businesses and crucially new laws to ensure that attacks on retail staff as treated as seriously as attacks on first responders.”

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