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Crack cocaine use and drug dealing surges in Ballymun following garda cuts, report finds

Open drug dealing and ‘cuckooing’ is taking place and criminals are targeting heroin users to get them hooked on crack cocaine.

Ballymun Town Centre.
Ballymun Town Centre.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

DUBLIN’S BALLYMUN AREA is experiencing a surge in crack cocaine use, drug addiction and youth crime, according to a new report commissioned by Dublin City Council.

The report ‘Ballymun – A Brighter Future’ states that open drug dealing is taking place and criminal gangs are targeting people using opiates to get them hooked on crack cocaine.

It notes that the surge in drug-related activity coincided with a reduction in gardaí in the area and recommends that 40-50 additional gardaí are needed to tackle the crime wave in the north Dublin suburb.

“This reduction in policing may have been a key factor in the significant rise in drug problems in the area,” the report states.

The Garda, Dublin City Council and the community should work together to identify the worst hot spots, and develop a tailored plan for each of those hot spots.

“Frequent, sustained, visible policing will be required, as well as environmental enhancements or in some cases house building by the council,” it added.

“While we can’t eliminate addiction and all criminal activity, we can do more to protect the next generation of children growing up in Ballymun and reduce the number of traumatic experiences in their lives.

“This will help prevent them from being drawn into serious substance misuse and criminality,” the report said.

The crack cocaine surge brought a spate of ‘house take-overs’ to the community. This phenomenon, which is known as ‘cuckooing’, sees criminal gangs take control of the homes of vulnerable people in order to use them for drug dealing and consumption and other criminal activity.

The report was created by former lord mayor Andrew Montague who chairs the Ballymun Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force.

It says that, while a regeneration project has brought much-need improvements to Ballymun’s physical infrastructure, “social change was always going to be harder, and take longer, and much remains to be done.”

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“By many measures, Ballymun remains one of the most socially deprived communities in the country,” it added.

Male unemployment is at 50% or higher in the area, according to the most recent census, and Ballymun has the highest number of children in care per 1,000 in the country, more than twice the national average.

The report said that, despite the State’s highest allocation of child protection staff, many of the posts remain vacant.

Among the recommendations in the report are for the HSE to provide 10 senior social work positions to the child protection team for Ballymun and an additional 10-15 support workers.

It states that Dublin City Council “should not be housing additional families, who need significant supports, in temporary or permanent housing in Ballymun, while the supports needed by these families are not available.” 

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Ceimin Burke

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