Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said a project aimed at helping families being intimidated over drugs debts is succeeding, with the Government saying the scheme could be expanded across the country.
The commissioner said more was being done to help families threatened by drug dealers, often targeting a family over relatively small debts accrued by other members of the family and which in the past may have been written off.
“Intimidation has been ongoing since God’s time and the real issue is to have the trust and confidence in the guards to come to the guards,” he said.
The commissioner said there were “ways and means” of working around issues such as confidentiality and fear of being ostracised, but said he could not discuss the details of “highly sensitive and highly dangerous” situations for some people.
“There are certain areas where certain activities are heightened regarding drug activity and it is those areas we are targeting in terms of trying to bring about a resolution.”
He made his comments at the launch of a Dial to Stop Drug Dealing campaign at the Donore Youth Centre in Dublin’s south inner city.
At the same event, junior minister Roisin Shortall said intimidation of families by drug dealers was “a particularly worrying aspect” and that the operation by the Garda National Drugs Unit was being monitored.
She said its success would be gauged ahead of a possible national rollout.
The minister also stressed the importance of Garda work in combating the use of children and young people by drugs gangs.
Cllr Dermot Lacey, chairman of the south inner city local drugs taskforce in Dublin, said taskforces in the city felt “under a degree of pressure” due to cutbacks in areas such as local partnerships and community employment schemes. He said money spent on local support schemes aimed at helping people out of drug use was better than money being used later on in the justice and health systems.
Ms Shortall said €250m was being spent this year on drugs services and that, while there was a review being carried out into spending by local drugs taskforces, it was not a cost-cutting exercise. She said it was instead aimed at achieving better results for the money being allocated.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Andrew Montague said a report by a commission into antisocial behaviour, which he set up to look at the issue, would be published next month.
He said there was a “huge problem” with drug dealing and drug and alcohol abuse in the city centre. He said it was imperative to introduce preventative and early intervention measures, supporting pregnant women and parents during the first two years of their child’s life.
“It’s working with pregnant women to get the message out there that binge drinking is seriously damaging their child’s health for the rest of their life,” he said, referring to high levels of foetal alcohol syndrome.
“For too long we have been trying to intervene at the age of 16 where the results are very poor instead of intervening at the age of zero to two where the results are excellent.”
He said there had to be consequences for bad behaviour and that restorative justice should be used to a greater extent.
Crystal meth: Reported use in Dublin
The use of crystal meth, a hugely addictive drug, has surfaced in south Dublin, according to a report which also states the drug may be in Cork.
In its report An Assessment of the Prevalence of Drug Misuse in South Inner City Dublin the local drugs taskforce reports that: “Since the research was concluded [for the report] in Oct 2011 reports have been received that crystal meth has surfaced quite worryingly in our drug taskforce area”.
A service user interviewed for the report also said they had heard of crystal meth in Cork but that at the time there was no sign of it in the local area in Dublin. Another said it had been used in Belfast and was now in Tallaght. One interviewee admitted having used the drug.
The report also cites an Irish Examiner report from last September outlining how 2.5kg of crystal meth had been intercepted at Dublin Airport.
In the study itself the admittedly small sample number of people interviewed said it was possible to buy “everything” in Dublin city centre, with the Abbey St and boardwalk areas named specifically.
The 26 service users interviewed also said there was a big rise in the availability of crack cocaine and in the use of headshop drugs. Young people in particular seemed to be attracted to so-called legal highs.
— Noel Baker
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved