Local garda bosses are calling for action to combat feuding gangs vying for territory in an "ever-increasing drugs war”.
Speaking against the background of violent criminal feuds in Drogheda, Co Louth, and Corduff and Finglas in west Dublin, the country’s superintendents said the drugs trade had “permeated” towns and villages nationwide.
Noel Cunningham, president of the Association of Garda Superintendents, said local intelligence assisted gardai in tackling crime and that to gather that information you needed enough gardai to have them “mingling” with communities.
He was addressing Minister of State at the Department of Justice, David Stanton, at the AGS annual conference in Kildare.
Supt Cunningham told the minister of the “constant challenges” facing his members in dealing with drugs and organised crime.
“This is a national issue permeated into towns and villages across the country were opposing groups vying for territory and market share in our ever-increasing drugs war,” he said.
He took to task those, such as official sources (which include health agencies and researchers here and internationally) for the language they use around drugs.
“The use by groups, including official sources of the term ‘recreational drugs’ is only helping to normalise what is illegal, dangerous and supporting drug abuse in Ireland," he said.
“We must be careful with our language and supportive of a multi-agency approach to addressing drug abuse within our young and not so young communities.”
Supt Cunningham also raised the need to resource garda districts along the Garda Northern Division in addressing a rise in cross-border crime and the spate of ATM robberies.
In his address, Minister Stanton said: “In relation to crime, much has been said recently regarding organised and armed criminal activity, particularly in the Louth and DMR West Divisions.
He said that while resource allocation was the sole responsibility of the Garda Commissioner, he understood that dedicated policing operations have been put in place.
“Armed Support Units, whose members are highly trained and equipped with a variety of non-lethal and lethal weapons, are supporting their uniformed colleagues by carrying out high visibility armed checkpoints and patrols throughout the region,” Minister Stanton said.
He said this was being supported by various national units.
“The type of activity occurring in Drogheda and Blanchardstown will not be allowed to continue, and those engaged in these illegal activities will be brought to justice," he said.
The conference will be addressed later by Commissioner Drew Harris.