Home > Dail Eireann debate. Topical issues debate - Drugs dealing.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Topical issues debate - Drugs dealing. (05 Dec 2019)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Deputy Seán Crowe - I want to ask about the Government's approach to open drug dealing in my constituency of Dublin South-West. This is a scourge on our communities and there is an inadequate and weak response from the Government and the Garda, which is more than aware of the extent of the problem but seems reluctant, perhaps for resource or operational reasons, to act and close it down. In many cases, it is happening in plain view of CCTV and is not hidden away.


What can I or the Minister say to a constituent of mine who says that, every night, drug dealers gather outside their home to sell heroin or cocaine, including crack cocaine? There are children who have had to move from their own bedroom because they cannot sleep, with the shouting and noise from cars pulling up and speeding away, and because they are frightened, they want to move to their mother's bed. What does the Minister say to the shop owner who has to close early because of drug dealing in front of the shop? What does he say to a young person who has grown up looking at open drug dealing in their community and the normalisation of drugs and dealing among a new generation? What does he say to a person who, every day, leaves his home to go to school and sees drug paraphernalia littering his community, or many of his friends trying out drugs and developing an addiction? What does he say to the 12 year old, ten year old or eight year old who is selling or transporting drugs?


A recent report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol found that Europeans are spending at least €30 billion on drugs each year, making the market a source of income for organised crime groups. The report states that Irish organised crime gangs are rigidly structured and extremely dangerous, which we all know. At the bottom of the criminal gang structure, the report states, is a lower tier of highly disadvantaged young people, generally involved in bullying, assaulting, stealing, vandalising and spreading fear on behalf of their network. The report states gangs in Ireland use intimidation to enforce their social norms within the drugs distribution hierarchy to discourage and punish informants, to recruit new members and to gain control over supply networks or territory. It points out that intimidation is escalating in certain parts of Europe, including Ireland, and much of this is related to drug debts and how the drug markets operate. The report states that many communities in Ireland have been severely affected by intimidation, with major impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities and the function of local services and agencies.


I have never seen the scale of drugs that are being openly sold in my constituency, and I am around this town a long time. Former Ministers with responsibility for drugs policy are saying the drugs strategy needs to change and the drugs crisis is escalating. It is not just about the Garda not having the resources it requires. New thinking, new strategies and a new approach are needed but I am not seeing that from the Government. I have never seen the situation as bad. It has become normalised, more violent, more vicious and more evident, and intimidation is widespread, with drugs freely available. It is not unusual for a 70 year old to present at Tallaght Hospital with health complications related to drugs, particularly cocaine. That is shocking. It is a wake-up call for us all when children and people in their 70s are involved, and it reflects the extent of the problem. My real concern is the open drug dealing and what message that sends to those communities.


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan)

I take very seriously the points raised by Deputy Crowe and I acknowledge his work over many years on behalf of communities in his constituency. Tackling the sale and supply of drugs is a key priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána. The Garda is pursuing a number of strategies to tackle drug trafficking by organised criminal gangs, including the following: gathering intelligence on those involved in the distribution of drugs; conducting targeted operations on criminal networks based on intelligence; working with the Criminal Assets Bureau to seize the assets of criminals and disrupt their activities; and working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, both within and outside the jurisdiction…….


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