This month alone, P Mac has removed 2,861 m2 of graffiti from Dublin’s city centre and surrounding areas. Our dedicated graffiti removal team need to be out and about in the very early hours to get to those awkward spots before the city comes alive and work is inhibited by traffic and pedestrians.
A 3 am start every day!
The graffiti team meet up every morning at 3 o’clock in our head office at Harold’s Cross to plan the day ahead. They look at all the requests that have come in for graffiti removal and prioritise them according to a number of factors. Racist or offensive graffiti is given first priority and is removed within hours of being reported. Our record for removing offensive graffiti is 20 mins when, during a public demonstration on a Sunday, paint was thrown at the Attorney General’s Office. The Gardai contacted our emergency number and a member of our team rushed out to remove the evidence immediately.
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Removing offensive graffiti
Graffiti removal can be a risky business as not everyone is happy to see certain graffiti removed. During the month, our team required a Garda escort to remove some offensive graffiti relating to an ongoing feud in the city.
Removing graffiti for Michael D Higgins
We also got an urgent call last week from Dublin City Council. They had just received the news that President Michael D Higgins was visiting a community centre at the Tom Kelly Road flat complex off Charlemont Street. There’s nothing like a VIP visit for motivating a quick clean up!
We arrived that morning at 5 am to commence works, and realised that there was a lot more graffiti present than we had anticipated. In order to meet the deadline, the team called in our second graffiti team to lend a hand. There were hundreds of metres of graffiti throughout the complex, with heavily tagged areas on doorways, utility boxes and all the surrounding walls.
We removed the graffiti using graffiti removal chemicals where possible and then colour matched paint on all painted surfaces. The team worked really hard and the paint was barely dry on the walls when the President arrived!
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Scheduling graffiti removal jobs with our mobile work management system
Graffiti removal requests come in directly from Dublin City Council and Dublin City BID (Business Improvement District) businesses via our mobile workforce management system, Geopal. This is a live work management system which gives us instant access to photos of the graffiti and its exact location. It also has the great advantage of enabling our clients to track their graffiti removal request and to receive photos once the job is completed.
We also get a lot of requests from property management companies and private clients. These are all added to the list and distributed to the team. Racist or offensive graffiti is prioritised, then jobs are scheduled and distributed according to their location and accessibility. Any time-critical jobs, such as the one for the Presidential visit, get bumped up to the top of the queue.
How does graffiti end up in those impossible to reach spots?
Accessibility is a major factor when scheduling a graffiti job, and it makes you wonder how the graffiti artist managed to get there in the first place. Writers can go to extreme risks to leave their mark. Graffiti artists who tag on very high buildings or underneath overpasses usually have a partner who holds onto their legs. They see it as a trust building exercise. Some hang from a grappling hook to reach those impossible and very dangerous graffiti spots.
Health & Safety is a priority when removing graffiti
Obviously, our graffiti removal team cannot and would not use these very dangerous methods to access these areas to remove the graffiti. We have a very strict Health & Safety Policy and ensure all our workers and clients are safe while on the job. Removing graffiti from these very dangerous, hard to reach spots may require scaffolding or the hire of a mobile tower. Sometimes, the only way to remove graffiti in very awkward spots is to engage a professional abseiling team. We often remove graffiti outside of normal working hours in order to keep our workers, as well as the general public, safe.
Safely removing graffiti – Tom Kelly Road flats, Dublin
The cost of removing graffiti
All of these factors mean that graffiti removal is often a costly experience. This is why some people engage cheaper contractors to remove their graffiti, but unfortunately this often ends up being more expensive in the end. We are often called out to remedy damage to a stone facade or other surface that was caused by an inexperienced person using the incorrect chemical to remove the graffiti, or causing damage with a pressure hose. Either of these methods can etch the stone and the only way to bring it back is by re-honing.
To fully remove graffiti from a stone wall will often require several visits – fully removing what we call ghosting. You can see quite a bit of this around the city, where a faint outline of the graffiti is visible on the wall. This is good enough for some people, but we would never leave ghosting on a job we are contracted to carry out.
Graffiti removed from the red brick wall at the Tom Kelly Road flats
Graffiti removal and Dublin City Council
Graffiti removal is an expense generally borne by local government, and along with litter and pollution it is a major environmental issue. Graffiti on our streets conveys an image of decay and apathy, and if left un-removed will only encourage further occurrences. Dublin City Council are active, not only in the removal of graffiti, but also in the education of young adults in its prevention.
You may have noticed in the past year the wonderful artwork on utility boxes dotted around the city. This artwork was commissioned as part of Dublin City Council’s Beta Projects initiative to help animate the city, and deter tagging and posting of unsightly stickers. This project has greatly reduced the instances of tagging, in turn reducing the need for maintenance but also improving the public realm experience with a unique piece of art. We have coated all of these unique creations with an anti-graffiti coating, which means that any graffiti can be easily removed with just water.