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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 25 June, 2019
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Drug dealing seen as 'more attractive' way to earn money for some young Irish people

New research found the local drug economy – unlike precarious work – recruits young people by incentivising and enticing them.

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SOME YOUNG PEOPLE in Ireland consider drug selling to be a “meaningful” alternative stream of income that is more attractive than the precarious work available to them, according to new research.

The research which will be launched later today was undertaken by Dr Matt Bowden of Technological University Dublin and is based on the experience of those working in youth services and community drug projects with young people who are involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the illegal drugs trade.

“We cannot speak about drug markets, distribution and consumption without talking about issues of health, housing, education and training,” said Bowen.

The current polydrug markets are providing an alternative stream of income and occupation that appear meaningful for young people and our research participants all stressed the need to create opportunities and pathways to enable young people to make the transitions to both education and labour market participation, with the chance to earn a decent living.
They also stressed that the young people involved in the drugs trade are neither out of control nor untouchable and that as a society it is worth investing in them and including them.

Citywide’s Anna Quigley said people working in youth services and community drug projects viewed the local drug economy as “a type of work which is made attractive to young people and which recruits their labour based upon incentivising and enticing them”.

“They see young people’s aspirations being channelled into considering drug selling as an alternative to precarious labour [insecure employment that is usually poorly paid] and as a means of accessing consumer goods.”

She said the networked organisation of drug distribution is now based upon peer-to-peer selling which involves young people selling drugs to each other.

“Providing credit or ‘fronting’ drugs to young people for re-distribution or consumption is viewed as a widespread practice”.

One of the interviewees in the research said: “Sometimes the image is the evil drug dealer, the evil guy, but a lot of the time it’s that the person welcomes the three hundred credit and they welcome… that they’re giving the drugs to their mates… and the drug dealer is liked by the people he’s giving the drugs to.”

However Quigley said this ‘credit’ can be misunderstood by young people and they need to recognise that day-to-day supply through friendship connections is not a gift, it is “an economic bond”.

“The research highlights the need for drug awareness and prevention work to include education on how debt and credit work in the drugs economy. Threats and physical violence are the means used to recoup debts and systemic intimidation is a critical experience for young people and their communities as captured in the interviews.”

Participants in the research identified how drug-related intimidation is key to how drug distribution networks are organised.

They said they see how it also has a ‘secondary effect’, keeping the community insecure, fearful and subordinate – parents come under pressure to pay drug debts and are sometimes advised to do so to de-escalate the threat of violence.

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