As part of a crackdown called Operation Aughrim, Gardaí are arresting Romanian youths who are brutally attacking and robbing men in Dublin’s most identifiable gay area. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of our community, says Rob Buchanan.
The laneways off Dame Street, George’s Street and Aungier Street are not safe places for gay men at the moment. The area, which is home to Ireland’s two biggest and best-known gay bars has been targeted by a gang of juvenile Romanian robbers, who are attacking men walking alone.
In one of the most recent incidents, captured on CCTV, a man was knocked unconscious before being robbed by the youths. Two Gardaí who came upon the scene were unable to capture the suspects, as they were assisting the seriously injured and unconscious victim. However, on the same laneway on Wednesday night, Gardaí arrested two juvenile Romanians after a man was assaulted and had his phone and wallet stolen. The arrests were part of a crackdown called Operation Aughrim, which also takes in other area’s of the captial.
There have been seven documented reports of assaults on men by this gang in the past two weeks. Three of these occurred in one particular laneway, close to the Olympia Theatre. However it’s very likely that there have been other unreported attacks.
It remains to be seen whether these attacks have a more opportunistic than homophobic motivation. The fact that most of the victims were gay men may be more to do with the location than any directly homophobic element. However, it’s impossible to believe that the perpetrators where unaware that gay men would be in the vicinity, alone and intoxicated.
We have to ask ourselves what makes our community uniquely susceptible this type of violence and ensure that it doesn’t continue. The psychological damage is not localised to the unfortunate victim. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us because in a larger way our entire community feels brutalised. It makes us feel unsafe in our own city.
I contacted G Force, An Garda Siochana’s LGBT group, to see if there was any specific advice to the Dublin LGBT community regarding the attacks and to see what steps are being taken to apprehend and prosecute the suspects. They reiterated that everything is being done to apprehend those responsible and encouraged vigilance.
Do not walk home alone, or allow your friends to. Be mindful of your surroundings. Caution is prevention, denying these thugs the opportunity of unaware, unaccompanied prey.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an attack, it’s vital that you come forward, in complete confidentiality, and report it to the Gardaí. Reporting will help stop these scumbags from bringing misery in to the lives of any other victims and terrorising our community.
A list of the Garda LGBT Liaison Officers can be found on page 38 of the current issue of GCN
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