|Dublin's busy Temple Bar by night|
The U.S. State Department has really overstepped the mark in their new warnings to American tourists in Ireland.
The government is warning Americans to be aware of gangs "roaming the streets" of Dublin.
I've gone to Dublin, oh maybe 20 times these past four years and have yet to encounter a "roving gang".
No one else I have spoken to has either.
That is nonsense and a sensationalist approach more fitted to tabloids than serious government warnings.
The State Department also warned visitors to be on the lookout for criminals using electronic "skimmers" at ATM's, to be aware their drinks could be spiked, and to be especially vigilant around tourist attractions.
The warnings make Dublin sound like Tijuana,Mexico with drug dealers,killings and mayhem everywhere.
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Yet they qualify the language quickly;
"There have been a limited number of assaults on foreigners and tourists, including violence towards members of racial minority groups," the Dept of State said in an updated crime assessment.
"There have also been several reported assaults in Dublin by small, unorganised gangs roaming the streets in the early morning hours after the pubs close, and a high incidence of petty crime in major tourist areas, mostly theft, burglary and purse snatching."
This is inflammatory nonsense of the worse kind. The number of American tourists attacked in Dublin or ripped off is minuscule and I'd bet far lower than many other capitals.
The State Department is really gilding the lily here at a time when such loaded language seems intent on scaring away much needed tourists.
Are there gangs and scammers in Dublin? Of course. like any other city in the world.
Are they running rampant through the streets/ No, definitely not.
Are they uniquely likely to attack American? No, not unless the American is very unlucky.
I don't know here the State Department gets these hysterical headlines from but they need to get a grip.
The State Department recommended that visitors leave their passports in a secure location "in case an incident occurs."
The department said that scams involving email, chat rooms and dating/social networking sites were on the rise in Ireland.
Visitors were also advised not to buy counterfeit and pirated goods and to not to break Irish laws, "including its tough drunk-driving rules."
All fine and well but turning what is routine crime into some kind of lurid emergency warning is pretty far over the top.
The State Department should know better.
Listen to Niall O’Dowd on Ireland’s Newstalk 106 on In Discussion with Eamon Dunphy here (31st July and 7th August)