TheLiberty is a local paper for Dublin's south inner city

February 2001

Gay community on alert after vicious attacks

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By Lisa Deeney
TWO VIOLENT attacks on gay men in the Liberties area recently have caused alarm and fear within Dublin's gay community.

A gay man who was trying to hail a cab recently was kidnapped, viciously attacked and robbed. The man, who gave his name as Michael, told theLiberty he had been trying to hail a cab on Dublin's Thomas Street. A car pulled up and he got in. He requested to be driven to Bridgewater Quay in Islandbridge, but instead was taken a different route.

Two other men then jumped into the car and stabbed the man with a Stanley knife in the back of the neck and in the stomach. Michael said they called him "queer", and told him they had seen him leave Lynch's, a pub on Thomas St. They also robbed him of £80.

When the car was on Infirmary Road, off the North Circular Road, the man managed to escape. The same two men then pursued him and began to lash him with a belt, Michael said. A woman in a passing car began to sound the horn of her car, at which point they jumped back into their vehicle and drove away.

"I was lying unconscious on the street and I think some woman nearby phoned an ambulance," Michael told theLiberty, adding that it was a "deliberate attack on a gay person. There are lots of attacks just like this where they go unreported as people sometimes are too afraid. I am a nervous wreck now. Even if somebody asks me the time in the pub or on the street I get afraid". Michael spent three days recovering in Beaumont hospital.

Ireland's only Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer, Sgt Finbarr Murphy, said that Michael's attack was a "particularly nasty" incident adding "it was the worst we came across in a long time. We urge anyone who is a victim of an assault to come forward".

Gardai in the detective unit in Kevin St are investigating the crime but sources indicate gardai have no specific leads. No one has been questioned or arrested concerning the attack as yet.

In another incident, Mr Odhran Allen, a reporter for Gay Community News, was attacked on Aungier St. According to Mr Allen, gardai who arrived on the scene were unaware of the existence of the Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officer.

Mr Allen was with two friends when a carton of milk was thrown at him by one of a gang of youths aged between 10 and 14 years. The group then began to call him names such as "queer" and "fag". When he approached the gang to "tell them off", he was set upon by the group who began throwing three-pin plugs and glass bottles.

"The youngest kid then stabbed me in the face with a piece of glass and some metal object," Mr Allen told Gay Community News. He fled the scene when knives were produced and he was threatened with being stabbed. "It was a very vicious attack," said Mr Allen. "People have to be careful on that street. I was shocked that kids that young could be so vicious."

Mr Allen described the gardai as "courteous" driving him around the flats in the area to try to identify some of the groups. But Mr Allen said gardai should know who Sgt Murphy is.

Sgt Murphy told theLiberty the officers could have been young and may not have known about his role. "At the moment we are hoping to train gardai down in Templemore to make them more aware of the Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officer."

The editor of Gay Community News, Mr Stephen Mulkearn, believes there are ongoing attacks against gay people in Dublin. "We get calls every month from people who have been attacked. At some level we are used to it happening as it happens so often."

Sgt Murphy encourages anyone who has been attacked to report the incident. "People must come and tell us, that is the most important thing," he said.

Sgt Finbarr Murphy can be contacted at Pearse St Garda Station: 666 9000.