Sunday, 2 November 2008

Giant O'Connell Street drug banner not for tourist view

THE famous architectural facade of the Carlton cinema on Dublin's O'Connell Street is to be covered with a giant canvas poster advertising a confidential telephone line on which people can report suspected drug dealers.

But organisers say they have kept potentially negative reaction from foreign visitors in mind – and will take down the poster during the busy tourist season.

The giant canvas will advertise a free phone number so that people who are intimidated by criminal elements can report drug dealing directly to gardaí.

"For the Carlton cinema we have prepared a very large banner with a message – 'dial to stop drug dealing' – and a phone number," explained Labour Party TD Joe Costello, who has helped initiate the scheme.

But admitting that the poster will overlook one of Dublin's main tourist thoroughfares, he said: "It is not something that is going to be around over the summer months. We will keep it over Christmas but we can't have the Carlton indefinitely.

"We asked them if we could have it for a short while and they thought it would be a great idea and said 'yes'. We feel it being erected in a prominent place in the non-tourist seasons would not affect tourism. Effectively the tourist season starts on St Patrick's Day and goes on until September."

The north inner city is one of a number of areas where pilot programmes, funded by the Department of Justice, encourage information on drug dealers to be handed over to the authorities on a confidential basis.

"The idea is that where drugs are being pushed, that someone has a free phone number to get on to straight away and they don't have to worry that they are contacting the gardaí if that makes them feel intimidated," Costello said.

The programme will be launched on 11 November in the Gresham Hotel, opposite the giant advertisement. In tandem with the poster and the launch of the 24-hour phone number, other initiatives have been designed to encourage those in the know to indirectly inform authorities of illegal activity.

The phone number will also be printed on beer mats and posters and some 30,000 leaflets will be delivered to households in areas covered by Store Street, Mountjoy, Fitzgibbon Street and Bride-well garda stations.

Sunday Tribune

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