The President of the Cork Business Association has called for a targeted high-visibility garda crackdown on open drug-dealing and drug-taking in the city.
Philip Gillivan said while he accepts the drugs issue is complex and requires a multi-agency response, something must be done to clean up the city centre.
“We obviously need more gardaí to help support the great work being done by those already there, but we do need to do something in the short term to clean up the city centre. People just don’t feel safe in or around town with the amount of open drug-taking,” he said.
Operation Spire was introduced by gardaí in Store Street, Dublin, in 2014 of part of an ongoing strategy targeting anti-social behaviour and drug dealing on O’Connell Street.
It combined high-visibility uniform patrols with dedicated covert plainclothes officers working together to target drug dealing and anti-social behaviour on the capital’s main street.
In the first four days, officers searched 304 suspects, they made 42 detections for possession or supply of drugs, they issued 99 behavioural warnings, and detected 16 public order offences.
Small quantities of drugs including diamorphine (heroin), cannabis herb, cocaine and diazepam were seized as well as significant amounts of prescription drugs including Zimovane.
After six weeks, the value of drugs seized topped almost €16,000. Much of it - €7,700 worth of heroin - was seized under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, for supply, and almost €1,200 was seized under Section 3, for possession.
Mr Gillivan suggested something similar to Operation Spire be mounted in Cork.
Drop in number of garda vehicles
His comments come as figures show the number of garda vehicles across the three Cork garda divisions fell from 248 to 229 in the eight months from December 2018 to the end of August 2019. The figures for Cork city alone show the division is down nine vehicles since the start of the year.
The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman, Cork South Central TD Michael McGrath, who said the reduction must be having an impact on day-to-day policing across the city and county.
"This open drug dealing has a detrimental impact on communities," he said.
“It creates a sense of fear among people living in the area and fails to address the users’ underlying issues. We need proper treatment and support structures, but the resources are simply not there."
He said a visible garda presence is needed on the streets to ensure that people who need help can be identified and referred to the relevant services.
“Unless the government wakes up to this incredibly serious problem and allocates the resources needed, the situation will continue to spiral out of control,” he said.