The Dáil yesterday heard that children as young as 13 are being paid to sell these drugs but lack of legislation means gardaí cannot tackle the problem.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil the Government will not be “intimidated” by criminal gangs and would be working to fully resource the gardaí.
He said the current escalation of gangland murder and crime is different to previous instances in Limerick and Dublin as there is now an “international aspect” where murders are ordered from abroad.
Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil was yesterday dominated by the spiralling gangland feud in Dublin’s inner city which culminated in the seventh murder in 100 days earlier this week.
Members of the opposition told the Dáil the recent escalation of the Kinahan-Hutch feud doesn’t “exist in a vacuum” and the Government now has to look at supporting the wider community.
Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin called on Mr Kenny to tackle the wider issues which have fuelled the recent violence and said children “can earn a fortune” by selling prescription tablets and “Z-drugs”. He said: “They are giving up to €200 or €300 to 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds to distribute tablets on the streets.
“They are telling the other children that they are mugs not to be involved because it is lucrative.”
He said new regulations are required to give the gardaí the power to arrest those who are distributing tablets across the city.
“Incredibly, the Garda is not in a position to move effectively on that particular phenomenon, which is a huge source of revenue to the drug lords and which is damaging young people in those communities.”
The Taoiseach said the minister for health is preparing primary legislation to extend provisions under the Misuse of Drugs Act to deal with this. However, Mr Martin interjected by pointing out that “his has been going on for years”. Mr Kenny replied: “We cannot introduce the regulations until we have the primary legislation.”
He added: It is distressing to read of the lock-down of schools and the fears of parents, who are afraid of what is going to happen to their children.
“Government are not going to be intimidated by this sort of murderous feud.”
He said a task force dealing with the local issue will be set up and a national strategy to deal with drugs is to be developed. However, Mr Kenny said that it would take time, more Garda resources, and funding to jail those responsible for the recent spate of murders.
“It took years to deal with the McCarthy-Dundons, it took years to deal with Gilligan, it took years to deal with The General,” he said.
Mr Martin said this week’s killing shows “the degree of power that these gangs are wielding on our streets” despite extra Garda resources being put in place in the area.
Referring to the criminals as “parasites” who thrive on the “deprivation and desperation of communities” the Labour leader Brendan Howlin said “crimes like this, feuds like this don’t exist in a vacuum”.
Asking for specific details on how the Government intends to respond, he said “words are not enough today”, adding: “This is not about any member of this house, it’s not about scoring points. It’s about a community under siege.”