There are calls for more Gardai on the beat in Dublin 15 after a spate of sexual assaults in a matter of weeks.
Investigating officers now believe they are hunting more than one predator, after five women were groped in broad daylight in random attacks in Hartstown, Manorfield and Clonee.
All of the assaults have been on young women in their teens and 20s and senior officers have directed that uniformed patrols be increased.
But locals are calling for a full-time increase in garda numbers after a recent public meeting in Huntstown heard that women feel unsafe walking alone in the area.
Cllr Paul Donnelly (SF) told Dublin Gazette: “In all the time I’m living here, I’ve never seen such a spate of attacks in such a short time by what appears to be a number of individuals.
“Women are really, really frightened. The majority of these attacks have been in the daytime and appear to be completely random.
“Gardai have been swift to respond but the underlying concern is that we don’t have enough officers on the streets.”
The Blanchardstown area now has a population close to 110,000 people, with plans for almost 7,000 additional housing units, most of which will be built in Ongar and Tyrellstown.
Garda numbers were slashed during austerity measures and the number of Community Gardai was cut to less than 10. While their numbers are recovering, they are still far off 2006 levels.
Cllr Donnelly said: “This area has a population the size of Limerick, with one Garda station. Limerick has three times the number of Gardai.
“You don’t tend to see Gardai on the streets here because their resources are too low.
“We need at least another 20 Gardai – we don’t have even close to what’s required.
“That’s not to say it’s the Wild West, but residents need to feel safe. It’s important to note the special case of D15 because we have a very large population of young people – the largest in Europe.
“We have a very diverse community that brings its own challenges as well. We have a special case for resources. It’s a great place to live, but we want it to continue to be a great place to live.”
Gardai are hopeful that DNA evidence will assist the investigation and help lead them to the person or persons responsible.
Cllr Donnelly urged people with information to come forward but he warned against scaremongering.
He said: “If you share information on social media, make sure it is verified. The last thing we need is to create panic.”