Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has raised his concerns over the increase of in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and said that it will inevitably lead to an increased amount of heroin reaching Ireland.
Crowe raised the issue during Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Dáil today and called on Ireland and the EU to do more to stop the cultivation and transportation of this drug.
Deputy Crowe said:
“Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose to a new high of more than 200,000 hectares in 2013, a 36% increase over last year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“That is the size of approximately 283 Phoenix Parks and the UN estimates that total opium production reached roughly 5,500 tons.
“It is now believed that 75% of the world’s heroin is produced in Afghanistan and we know that one of the key target markets for this drug will be Europe.
“Over the past 3 decades in Dublin we have all seen the devastating impact that cheap and widely available heroin can do to communities and individuals.
“I have stood over too many graves and attended too many funerals not to be concerned about this new development.
“It is important that we stop this drug at its source before it even gets here, and that means EU countries working with the Afghan government, as well as the governments of Iran and Pakistan, whose territories are to be used as supply lines to transport this opiate.
“Afghanistan is one of the most impoverished countries in the world so it is vital that the focus is not entirely just put on stopping poppy cultivation and farmers growing the crop but also on developing socio-economic programmes, with realistic and sustainable substitutes for the poppy introduced.
“As long as we think we can have short-term, fast solutions to this huge problem, we are doomed to continue to fail, but Ireland and the EU must act with urgency now.
“Inaction from successive Irish Governments and their inability to deal with heroin availability destroyed the potential of thousands of young people in Dublin and across this State.
“This new threat needs a collective response and immediate action to stop this drug arriving on our shores and into our communities.”