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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 25 June 2022

'Kids are selling drugs because gardaí are busy at water protests'

Drug dealing in Dublin has been described as “absolutely horrendous”

Image: Chris Young

THE OIREACHTAS JUSTICE Committee has been told that a lack of Garda resources has led to a worsening of the drugs problem in Dublin.

Marie Metcalfe, Co-ordinator of the Community Policing Forum in the North East Inner City, said the drugs problem in the capital is “absolutely horrendous”.

Metcalfe, who has been working in the area for 16 years, said she feels like she has gone back in time because of how much the situation has regressed in recent years.

“My community is full of drugs, there’s absolute black spots everywhere.”

Metcalfe welcomed the fact two new drugs units were set up in Dublin before Christmas but said resources are still seriously lacking.

“We don’t have the resources and I think that’s absolutely appalling.”

She noted that the situation has worsened recently because more gardaí have to leave their area to police anti-water charges protests.

marie 2 Marie Metcalfe Source: Screengrab/Oireachtas.ie

Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey confirmed that this the case, stating: “The water protests do require resources so there are resources going out to those particular areas, yes.”

He said An Garda Síochána is committed to tackling drugs as part of the National Drug Strategy.

Metcalfe said when gardaí are present it’s often there to carry out raids.

“They might come out with guns, money and drugs and it might be wonderful for the gardaí but it does nothing for us,” she noted, adding that the drug operation is usually up and running again within “half an hour”.

Metcalfe called for a mini Criminal Assets Bureau to be set up to monitor how criminals make their money in smaller communities.

She said young people in her area see rich drug dealers and think: “I want that and I’m going to get that so that’s what I’ll do.”

They’re on their bikes moving €50 worth of hash or €50 worth of heroin – that’s a lot of money for a child.

Metcalfe said the government is not talking the problem seriously and should appoint a minister for drugs.

Committee Chair David Stanton agreed with this. The Fine Gael TD also suggested that an Oireachtas committee specifically dedicated to the issue be set up to look into how best to deal with the issue in both urban and rural areas.

Fear of reprisal

Dr Johnny Connolly, a criminologist with the Health Research Board, said that “fear of reprisal” is one of the main reasons people don’t come forward to report drug-related crime.

Connolly was the lead author on a report that examined Irish drug markets. Research was conducted from 2008-2010 and involved interviews with drug dealers and gardaí, as well as a street survey of 800 people.

He said that the durgs network was not about individuals as if you remove one dealer another will quickly take their place.

“Thousands of people are caught up in drug dealing networks,” he told the committee.

johnny 2 Dr Johnny Connolly Source: Screengrab/Oireachtas.ie

Connolly said his research showed that many young people got involved in drugs due to lack of employment opportunities and boredom.

He noted that drugs-related violence has increased greatly in recent years, with the “overwhelming majority” of people surveyed saying more gardaí are needed on the streets.

Twomey said that when gardaí are made aware of a threat they ensure there is a “highly-visible, overt uniform presence” in the affected area.

Connolly noted that the number of people dying from drugs in Portugal saw a “sharp drop” after the copuntry decriminalised all drugs for personal use. He said this may be something to look into in an Irish context as we are more focused on the criminal side of drugs rather than the health and social aspects.

Originally published: 16.24

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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