A report into the European drugs market has found that violence and intimidation by drug gangs has severely affected communities in Ireland and has had a major impact on individuals, families, and communities.
That is hardly surprising given the war between two rival Irish gangs involved in cocaine importation and distribution in Ireland, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand has led to at least 15 murders in Ireland and Spain since 2015.
The drug market is a major source of income for organised crime groups in the EU, with minimum estimated retail value of €30bn a year. Apart from criminality, that makes it one of the biggest businesses in Europe.
In addition to the economic impact, drug-related deaths, and other harms to public health, there are broader consequences of drug markets, such as links with wider criminal activities and terrorism and the increasingly important issue of how the drug market can fuel corruption and undermine governance at local and national level.
We may be fooling ourselves in Ireland if we think that so-called softer drugs like cannabis are prevalent. In fact, we have a major cocaine problem here. While Colombian and Italian gangs have historically played a central role in the trafficking and distribution of cocaine, increasingly other groups are becoming more significant, including Irish gangs.
We need to get real in the fight against drugs.