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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Covid-19 (Justice and Equality): statements.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Covid-19 (Justice and Equality): statements. (13 May 2020)


Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchu

…..We will live with the Covid-19 virus for a long time, but the viruses that many of us have been living with for far longer are drugs and organised crime. Last Saturday, I saw for myself the horrific results of this pandemic when I received a call to say that in Muirhevnamore in Dundalk, approximately 1 km from my home, a young man was lying dead at the back of two houses that have been synonymous with drug use and dealing. 

At the scene, people in the community wanted to know who had died. They were saddened, but not shocked. They were angry. No one was in any doubt about who was responsible.

I spoke to gardaí. The view in the community was that the death could be linked to one of the most prolific drug dealers in the area, someone many would hold responsible for a number of deaths in the past year in this part of Dundalk. The following day, gardaí found €2,000 worth of cocaine in the same estate following the search of a man. Follow-up searches yielded another €30,000. Three people are being questioned after gardaí intercepted three cars in Drogheda and seized over €1.1 million worth of cocaine and prescription drugs as well as more than €500,000 in cash. 

I welcome the vigilance of gardaí but it has been clear for a long time that they are operating on the back foot and within a failing system. They constantly speak of being under-resourced. Drug dealing, addiction and drug debt extortion and violence are everywhere. Every village and town is affected, but working-class areas like Muirhevnamore, which is a great community with great people, pay the biggest price. 

It now looks like a Government will be formed. Many are committed to not having Sinn Féin be a part of it, but this point is too important to ignore. Whoever is in government needs to ensure the drug pandemic is taken seriously and the issue needs to be brought to the Cabinet table. This crosses not only the Department of Justice and Equality, but also the Departments of Health, Children and Youth Affairs and Housing, Planning and Local Government. We need multi-agency plans and operations at every local authority level. We cannot have a continued systemic failure of communities because that is what we have been dealing with. 

I accept that Covid-19 creates logistical difficulties. We need a plan for now and a plan for afterwards. We are also dealing with the fact that there are insufficient supports. The family addiction support network is still working, but is operating solely via volunteerism and just €7,500 in funding from an under-resourced drugs task force. This is never going to work. We welcome the natural justice of the Criminal Assets Bureau, but we have yet to see its impact on the El Chapos and narcos in Dundalk. I want to know whether there are any plans to remedy this. 

Many Garda operations lead to serious drug dealing charges, but there are often delays, bail is opposed and the community watches as these guys are back in action. We need to make sure we have processing and resourcing in place to ensure people get to court and a conclusion is reached…..


Deputy Sean Sherlock

....The second issue concerns the operational status of An Garda Síochána. I acknowledge the reference the Minister made in his statement to the Policing Authority report, but it is worth quoting from the report, which states:

In the previous set of figures released by An Garda Síochána, for the period 8 to 25 April, there were 760 such incidents. This means an additional 412 incidents have been recorded or confirmed in the past week (a 54% increase). It is noted that some of these incidents may have occurred prior to the 26th April but were not included in previous totals due to not being validated 

The report set out the issues in respect of the policing of Covid. It further states:

Approximately 22% of the offences relate to public order, while a further 16% relate to simple drug possession. General road offences was the third most frequent offence classification, accounting for approximately 10%. However, when all types of road offences are combined, they account for almost 32%.....

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