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Ireland 2020 Crime & Safety Report

This is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. OSAC encourages travelers to use this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Ireland. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Ireland country page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Ireland at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation 

Crime Threats 

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Dublin as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Crimes against U.S. nationals usually involve petty theft, burglary, and other minor offenses. Ireland hosts a large number of U.S. and other foreign tourists throughout the year. There is also a sizeable expatriate presence of U.S. nationals and business interests within the country. During 2019, property crime was down 6.3% nationally. There was a 7.1% increase in reported sexual offenses in 2019 compared with 2018. Total criminal damage was up by 3.2% in 2019, and total public order offending increased in 2019 by 4.3%. Burglary was down, by 6.3%. Dublin remains the county with the highest crime rate in accordance with its large and dense population.  

Violent crime in Ireland is rare but does exist. Over the past three years, the Garda Síochána (Garda, the Irish police) has focused resources primarily on violence associated with organized criminal groups, particularly related to drug trafficking. Violence has resulted in the murder of multiple individuals associated with criminal organizations. 

Drug-related crimes were up in 2019 compared to 2018. Most drug offenses concentrated in Dublin.

Table 1.1 Recorded crime incidents classified by offense group, annualized total to Q3 2018 and 2019 


Annualized total to Q3 

ICCSq offense group 




% Change 

Homicide and related offenses 





Sexual offenses 





Attempts/threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offenses 





Dangerous or negligent acts 





Kidnapping and related offenses 





Robbery, extortion and hijacking offenses





Burglary and related offenses 





Theft and related offenses 





Fraud, deception and related offenses 





Controlled drug offenses 





Weapons and explosives offenses 





Damage to property and to the environment 





Public order and other social code offenses 





Offenses against Government, justice procedures, and organization of crime






Note: Crime incident figures and the associated trends are based on provisional data available on January 2, 2020 and may change. CSO publications that will be available later in the year represent the official crime statistics. 

Cybersecurity Issues 

Cybercrime is a major concern, particularly with more than 700 U.S. companies and many of the leading technology firms locating their European headquarters in Ireland. The Irish government has been taking proactive steps to address this growing threat, including approving a new National Cyber Security Strategy. The Irish government has yet to provide data on the number of reported cybercrimes. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, and Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices.

Transportation-Safety Situation 

Road Safety and Road Conditions 

Road conditions and safety standards meet or exceed U.S. standards, except in remote areas, where roads can be extremely narrow and difficult to navigate. Vehicle accidents are common and are a major hazard for foreign drivers, especially those not accustomed to driving in Ireland, which is a right-side drive country. Major roads are well maintained, and extensive lighting exists. Weather conditions, especially in the western part of the country, can contribute to hazardous road conditions. A number of tour organizations arrange travel throughout the country, with varying degrees of service; none is off-limits for U.S. government employees. 

Cars drive on the left side of the road in Ireland. Those without experience driving on the left should be especially cautious; tourists driving on the incorrect side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year. Most intersections in Ireland use circular roundabouts instead of traffic lights; pay close attention to signs and yield the right of way to those already in the roundabout. Most rental cars in Ireland have manual transmissions; it can be difficult to find automatic transmission rental cars.

Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.

Public Transportation Conditions

The overall transportation system is efficient and safe. Taxis, buses, and trains are safe. Local bus service in the cities is generally adequate, although many buses are crowded, frequently run late, and lines do not necessarily link easily. Pay close attention to bus stop locations in both directions, as the drop-off and pick-up locations could be several blocks away from each other. Taxi rates vary with time of day and location. Ask your hotel for the number of a call-dispatched taxi service if you plan to be out during less busy times. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Terrorism Threat 

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Dublin as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. There are known indigenous terrorist organizations operating in Ireland, yet these organizations tend to involve cross-border (Northern Ireland) elements that focus their activities on criminal profits rather than ideological or political concerns. Irish officials recognize and respond to the security problems created by these groups. The ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe and recent attacks throughout the continent have not yet affected Ireland directly. While Ireland has not yet experienced any transnational terrorist attacks, the Garda consider an attack as “possible, but not likely.” Negative consequences from a potential “hard Brexit” might affect this assessment. 

Anti-U.S. Sentiment 

In general, anti-U.S sentiment is extremely low. A small but vocal and active percentage of Irish citizens oppose U.S. military activity in Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. There are occasionally small protests against the use of Shannon Airport as a military plane refuel stop and against perceived U.S. support for Israel. In 2019, some demonstrations occurred at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, although none of these protests were violent or disruptive to Embassy operations and nearly all of them were announced well in advance. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence 

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Dublin as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Large-scale protests by the Extinction Rebellion group against the Irish government not acting fast enough on climate issues caused traffic disruptions in Dublin and other Irish cities during the past year. Other protests in Dublin involved groups protesting the Irish Government’s handling of the homeless on the streets and in temporary accommodations. These protests appeared to have had no negative impact on tourism, nor were they directed at U.S. interests. Protests can be well organized and attended. Irish police presence at these events is generally adequate, although U.S. nationals are encouraged to avoid areas where protests take place. Historically, only protests involving U.S. interests might lead to direct targeting of the U.S. Embassy by protesters. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Post-Specific Concerns

Personal Identity Concerns

Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is offered in the United States. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

  • Government Buildings: Irish law requires access to government buildings for persons with disabilities, and this requirement is enforced. Under Irish law, public service providers should ensure the service is accessible to those with mobility, sensory, and/or cognitive impairments.
  • Parking:  On-street parking, public building parking lots, and internal parking lots always have a certain number of disabled spaces available. A permit is required to use these spaces, and information on applying for the permit can be found on the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland website. Local authorities and commercial premises, such as shopping outlets, have no legal obligation to provide external disabled parking facilities for their customers.
  • Buses and Trains: The majority of buses and trains in the main city areas of Ireland are now equipped for those with limited mobility, sight, or hearing disabilities, although some train stations and pathways may not be as easily accessible.
  • Mainline and Suburban Trains: Special portable ramps permit boarding from platforms to the carriages. These ramps are available at all terminal points and major junctions and stations that have staff on duty. They are also available on some trains. Travelers are advised to contact Irish Rail in advance to ensure such facilities are available. The website for Dublin Bus provides information on its travel assistance scheme. Regional and intercity bus services are provided by Bus Eireann.
  • Private Businesses: Accessibility in private businesses – such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, shops, and restaurants – varies widely. Travelers should inquire about accessibility issues with businesses before making reservations.
  • Disability Allowance: People who live in Ireland and meet the medical conditions for a disability allowance may apply for free travel passes; there is also a blind/invalidity pension from the Irish Department of Social Protection for those who qualify.

Police Response 

Garda is Ireland’s sole provider of policing, law enforcement, and state security. It included nearly 14,500 members as of January 2020. Police response times in Ireland are typically slower than in the United States. Police response to crime in Ireland is generally adequate and timely within the larger urban areas, especially Dublin, but considerably slower in the more rural areas of Ireland.

The emergency line in Ireland is 999 or 112 for police, fire, ambulance, and coast guard from any phone, including mobiles. For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page

Medical Emergencies 

In a medical emergency, calling 999 or 112 will dispatch an ambulance anywhere in Ireland. The ambulance service will take patients to the closest suitable hospital. There are six 24-hour-service hospitals in Dublin, with a bed capacity of approximately 3,000 patients. Emergency room services tend to be oversubscribed: patients can expect waits up to 12 hours before a doctor sees them. Take children needing hospital attention to one of three children’s hospitals in the Dublin area: Tallaght, Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children (Crumlin), or Children’s Hospital Temple Street. Outside of Dublin, most major cities have hospitals; consult with emergency services to locate the nearest medical facility. Response time for air medical evacuation is approximately 4-6 hours. The closest commercial evacuation service is located at Heathrow International Airport, in London: +44-17-5365-4751. Find contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website.

Hospitals do not accept U.S. insurance as coverage. Patients must pay all costs up-front at the time of treatment and apply for reimbursement later. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Ireland.

OSAC Country Council Information 

The Country Council in Dublin is active and meets four times per year. Reach the Regional Security Officer, who is a permanent member of the Country Council, through the main switchboard for the U.S. Embassy (+353-1-630-6200). Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Europe Team with any questions. 

U.S. Embassy Contact Information

U.S. Embassy Ireland is located at 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge Dublin 4

Regular business hours: 0730-1630, Monday – Friday 

Switchboard: +353-01-630-6200; Emergency after-hours: +353-1-668-8777

Website: https://ie.usembassy.gov/

Helpful Hints

Before you travel, consider the following resources:

OSAC Risk Matrix

OSAC Travelers Toolkit

State Department Traveler’s Checklist

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)



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