Home > A plan to tackle the underlying causes of addiction and open drug dealing in Ballymun, Dublin.

Millar, Sean (2022) A plan to tackle the underlying causes of addiction and open drug dealing in Ballymun, Dublin. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 80, Winter 2022, pp. 25-26.

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Based on the 2016 Census, the Trinity National Deprivation Index ranked Ballymun in Dublin as one of the most disadvantaged communities, if not the most disadvantaged community, in the Republic of Ireland.1 Ballymun has a long history of drug and heroin use dating back to the 1980s; it remains the community with the highest level of people with problematic opiate use in the country – 10 times greater than the national average.2 Also of note, Ballymun has suffered from serious criminality in recent years associated with open drug dealing and a surge in crack cocaine usage.3

A report 4 published in 2021 identified three key areas (prevention, desistance, and suppression) that should be addressed in order to implement a comprehensive approach for dealing with addiction and drug-related criminality in Ballymun. Specific recommendations related to these areas are listed below.


  • Ten senior social work positions should be provided to the child protection team for Ballymun in order to address the concerns from Tusla’s internal audit report of 2019, which found that children at risk of significant harm were not receiving an effective service.5
  • A new programme to work with young people who have dropped out of the education system should be established.
  • The Ballymun Network for Assisting Children and Young People should set up and train its own multisystemic therapy team, staffed from a variety of agencies working in Ballymun, with the network acting as the steering committee. This service should be available for young people involved in serious criminality, but also for young people at high risk but who have not yet become involved in crime.
  • Dublin City Council should not be housing additional families, who need significant supports, in temporary or permanent housing in Ballymun, while the supports needed by these families are not available.


  • Strive is a pilot programme that came into operation in 2015. It attempts to reduce crime in the Shangan and Coultry neighbourhoods of Ballymun by targeting the most harmful offenders in those areas.
  • As Strive has reduced crime in the Shangan and Coultry neighbourhoods, the capacity of the programme should be increased to cover the entire Ballymun area.


  • Additional Gardaí should be deployed to Ballymun Garda Station to effectively police open drug dealing, crime hotspots, and to case manage prolific offenders in the Strive programme.
  • Open drug dealing should be tackled, as it stigmatises the community; leads people to withdraw from community life; normalises drug dealing, drug use, and violence; and draws people from outside the community into Ballymun to buy and use drugs.
  • A planned and coordinated approach to crime hotspots should be introduced. The Gardaí, Dublin City Council, and the community should work together to identify the worst hotspots and develop a tailored plan for each one. Frequent, sustained, and visible policing will be required.

1  Teljeur C, Darker C, Barry J and O’Dowd T (2019) The Trinity National Deprivation Index for health and health services research 2016. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/34675/

2  Hay G, Jaddoa A, Oyston J, Webster J, Van Hout MC and Rael dos Santos A (2017) Estimating the prevalence of problematic opiate use in Ireland using indirect statistical methods. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/27233/

3  O’Reilly L and Mac Cionnaith C (2019) Crack cocaine use in Ballymun: an evidence base for interventions. Dublin: Ballymun Youth Action Project. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/31345/

4  Montague A (2021) Ballymun – a brighter future. A plan to tackle the underlying causes of addiction and crime and to tackle open drug dealing. Dublin: Ballymun Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/33970/

5  Tusla – Child and Family Agency (2020) Quarterly service performance and activity report: Quarter 3 2020. Dublin: Tusla.

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