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

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Topical issues debate - Drugs crime. (15 Jul 2020)

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


An Ceann Comhairle - I call Deputy Ó Murchú to discuss the matter of drug crime in Dundalk, County Louth. The Minister of State, Deputy McConalogue, is present. Congratulations on your appointment and we wish you well in your brief.

Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú - I also wish the Minister of State, Deputy McConalogue, all the best. I had a sheet of notes relating to this matter and every time I wrote something down I changed it because the entire process and my involvement with this issue just make me angry. We have never reached a solution. The reason I decided to raise this now was a number of recent events. At 3.35 a.m. on Sunday, 5 July, a family in Dundalk were very lucky to get away with their lives in Clontygora Court following an arson attack. I have been at a number of these attacks over the years but this was by far one of the most serious. In this case two of the family got out, luckily enough, and three of the family were upstairs, the father, a mother who was eight months pregnant and a four year old child. They were forced to jump out of the two-storey building. Obviously, some of them were injured, but luckily nobody was killed. That is the seriousness with which criminal gangs are operating in Dundalk. 

As regards drugs crime, one need only do a Google search to find that the Garda has been incredibly vigilant. Since it put a drugs unit in operation there have been finds of €30,000 and €35,000 worth of cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin. We have all seen the national drug treatment reporting system report which refers to an increase not only in cocaine use, which everybody is aware of, but also in the use of crack cocaine. When talking to community activists I have consistently been told about dealers being really sound to some of their customers and telling them: "I know things are not great now and I do not necessarily have a great supply of heroin, but do not worry because I have plenty of crack cocaine and I will sort you out with that". That is the reality, especially in working class areas. We have drug dealers who have been operating for many years but there has been a failure by the State to deal with them. 

I welcome the operations that have been carried out recently, and in all my dealings with the gardaí I am happy that they are utterly focused. However, one will never have a meeting with gardaí in which they will not talk about the need for more resources. With regard to the attack I mentioned and a previous attack that occurred in my own estate in which a garda's home was attacked, I must commend the neighbours who were vigilant and called the fire service, whose members were spectacular. In addition, the gardaí are putting operations in place and they are carrying out the necessary investigative work and bringing it to a conclusion. That is to be welcomed. 

My difficulty with the drugs problem is about who one should deal with at Cabinet level. I went to a meeting before the last election with the former Deputy, Mr. Gerry Adams, and the then Minister of State, former Deputy Catherine Byrne. She basically stated that one had to have somebody serious at Cabinet level who was willing to drive the project of dealing with dangerous criminals and ensuring there is a sufficient number of addiction services. Gardaí will state that they are constantly arresting people who need services and cannot get them. Services such as the Family Addiction Support Network are vital services that are not funded in any way. This issue crosses the areas of housing, health, education and justice. We cannot allow these dangerous criminals to operate. I want the Government to put somebody in charge. I welcome what is going to be done with the Citizens' Assembly, but we already know what has to be done.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Charlie McConalogue) - I thank you, a Cheann Comhairle, and Deputy Ó Murchú for the good wishes on my recent appointment. On behalf of the Minister, Deputy McEntee, and myself, I thank Deputy Ó Murchú for raising this serious matter……. 

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