Attacks on tourists: Ireland’s new trend across global headlines

Recent reports have highlighted Dublin has become increasingly unsafe across various fronts. What do these reports actually entail? What does this mean for students?

For better or worse, Ireland is not a country to make consistent global headlines. Although a prominent and considerable nation, Ireland generally strays away from international notoriety. To most of the world, Ireland has primarily been known as a charming country with picturesque landscapes, an endless number of pubs, and a rich history. Recently, however, the tables have turned. Over the last few months, Ireland, specifically Dublin, has repeatedly made front-page news across major global news outlets due to an increase in unprovoked street attacks on tourists and locals alike. The rise in street violence has even prompted the United States Department of State to issue a travel advisory to all American citizens planning a visit to Dublin. 

Recent Attacks

Over the course of this past summer, a string of attacks began to tarnish Dublin’s reputation as a safe capital city. Although violence and antisocial behaviour were not previously rare, Dublin was generally well-regarded to be safe. 

On July 19th, American tourist Stephen Termini was left in a coma with severe head and eye injuries after being assaulted near Talbot Street by a group of Irish teenagers. Three locals were similarly attacked in the wake of Termini’s story gaining global traction. On July 26th, the United States issued the travel advisory, with Spain, Canada, and New Zealand following suit. Assaults continue to be reported around Dublin during this time, but none receive the same level of publicity as Termini’s. On August 11th, three UK tourists were attacked in Temple Bar, with international news once again heavily reporting on this occurrence. 

Following this string of events, assaults and antisocial behaviour in and around Dublin have become exponentially more publicised in Irish media. Across multiple platforms, there seems to be a consensus amongst Dublin residents that the city has become increasingly unsafe over the last few years. 

In July, RTÉ released a report comprised of personal accounts from various Dublin residents who have experienced or witnessed dangerous behaviour in the city and their feelings regarding Dublin’s safety. Each interviewee detailed stories of drugs, violence, sexual harassment, and other antisocial behaviours in the streets of Dublin. Most stated that they refrain from walking in the city after dark for fear of being attacked. 

Comparing Statistics

Although personal accounts and global headlines are useful in understanding people’s perceptions of Dublin, statistics offer a more comprehensive view of what is occurring in the city. 

This is a crucial detail as the number of assaults in only the first semester of 2023 is almost that of the full year in 2019″

Data collected by An Garda Síochána on assaults in Dublin from the period of 2019 to July 2023 will assist with this analysis. It should be noted that the data from 2020/2021 are not fully representative of assault rates in Dublin due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Therefore, data from 2020/2021 will be shared but will not be included in the comparison. 

In 2019, there were a total of 2,535 assaults reported in Dublin. 

In 2020, 1,909 assaults. 

In 2021, 1,868 assaults. 

In 2022, 2,429 assaults, 

In 2023 (January to July only), 2,353 assaults. 

At first glance, the number of assaults in 2019 (pre-pandemic) closely mirrors that of 2023 (post-pandemic). However, as previously stated, the data from 2023 is only inclusive of the first seven months of the year. This is a crucial detail as the number of assaults in only the first semester of 2023 is almost that of the full year in 2019. In this same way, the number of assaults in 2023 has similarly almost surpassed that of 2022 (post-pandemic). 

Without knowledge of these statistics, it is not a far leap to place blame on the pandemic for an increase in violence around Dublin. However, the comparison of 2022 and 2023, with both serving as post-COVID years, is vital to the understanding that perhaps the pandemic is not fully at fault. Perhaps the antisocial behaviour running rampant on the streets of Dublin simply requires better management from those in charge.

Comments from Trinity

Spokesperson for College simply shared that she believes Dublin’s “stats are no worse than anywhere”

In reaching out to College for comment on these attacks in light of the academic year soon commencing with a wave of new and returning students to Dublin along with Trinity’s popularity as a tourist attraction, the Spokesperson for College simply shared that she believes Dublin’s “stats are no worse than anywhere.”

While that may be true in some capacity, there is arguably a distinction between stabilised data on assaults and sharp increases; Dublin’s trend should be categorised under the latter. The data from only the first half of 2023 coincides with the normal trend of annual reports in Dublin. Students and any other Dublin residents should feel safe where they reside and not be met with unmanaged violence. 

Although College is not responsible for the safety of Dublin as a whole, students should be aware of the current reality and take extra precautions when walking around the city. 

Gabriela Gazaniga

Gabriela Gazaniga is the Deputy Editor of News Analysis and is currently in her Junior Sophister year earning a degree in Law.