Aengus Ó Snodaigh - Community Safety and Policing
Speaking at Sinn Fein’s major conference ‘Engaging Modern Ireland’ Sinn Fein TD and Community Safety Spokesperson Aengus O Snodaigh said policing and community safety remain hugely important issues for Sinn Fein.
Deputy O Snodaigh said:
“Sinn Fein’s proven record on delivery on this issue in communities goes back a number of decades. Serious drug and gun crime is escalating in its severity throughout the city and indeed the rest of the country.
“Last year I had to go to a neighbour's house to confirm that her son had
died of a heroin overdose. A number of people within my community have been
caught up in drugs and many have died or are so incapacitated by drugs they
cannot function properly in society. I have attended too many services of
“That is the effect drug addiction has on communities and families. It causes great heartache. Those who live with a family member who is addicted to drugs hope they can come off them through an addiction programme, but often their hopes are dashed when he or she relapses or when treatment is simply not available.
“There is also a cost to the community with the intimidation of neighbours and the threat and reality of violence from drug dealers. This situation is extremely urgent. Apart from the human cost of drugs there is also a large financial cost.
“Take, for instance, the cost of the numbers of drug addicts presenting at accident and emergency departments because of complications from drug-taking. There is the cost of drug users who have contracted hepatitis C, HIV-AIDS and other disorders.
“The cost to society of drug addiction is vast. There is the cost of unemployment and disability benefits paid to those who cannot work because of their drug dependency.
“There is the cost of guardian payments, which are not high enough, for grandparents who must rear orphaned children because their parents have died from drugs or are incapable of looking after their children.
“In the past, up to 70% of crime, such as burglaries and criminal damage, were drug-related. What was that cost to our economy and society? Investment in prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reducing the supply of illegal drugs makes both social and economic sense.
“Sinn Féin has been working with the community, engaging with the Gardaí to outline the urgently needed resources and community support and of course active participation in joint policing committees of all stakeholders.
“We are engaging directly with communities so that we can properly reflect the problems on the ground in our work. We are proposing real and effective solutions on foot of these engagements.
“For example, last year Dublin Sinn Féin conducted a community safety survey of some 850 respondents at 21 locations across the county. The purpose of the survey was to identify the particular behaviours causing serious problems and to determine some of the most effective responses from the perspective of local people. The results of that survey informed the detailed proposals made by Sinn Féin to the Garda Policing Plan 2008.
“Sinn Féin public representatives are meeting with residents associations, tenants groups, statutory agencies and others in a variety of settings, including Joint Policing Committees to identify effective community safety solutions and to progress our proposals. This work
will continue and intensify.
“We have made effective and realistic proposals to the Minister for Justice and Garda Management around deployment and resourcing priorities, human rights, serious drug and gun crime, anti-social behaviour, domestic and sexual violence and a range of other areas.
Our key proposals include:
· Civilianisation to free up fully-trained Gardaí
· More Gardaí on foot and bicycles during the hours they are most needed
· Double the resources to the Garda national and local drugs units
· Disband Special Branch
· More Community Restorative Justice
· Make the position of Community Garda more attractive
· Treat crimes of domestic violence as serious crime
· All-Ireland sex-offenders register and supervision
“Garda reform and accountability are key. Reform in the 26 counties falls far short of that already achieved in the northern part of the country. We have no equivalent to the Policing Board in the 26 counties and Ombudsman is under resourced and has little tangible power.
“Budget 2008 demonstrates the real priorities of the FF/PD/Green government. This government may talk tough on crime but it’s just that – all talk! We just have to contrast spending on the IMC of €1.3 million with spending on crime prevention measures (€1.4) and services to victims of crime (€1.1). Spending on the Drugs Initiatives/Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund has been allocated €64 million with spending on the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund at €76 million.
“Sinn Féin must use our political power at local and national level to deliver change to our communities.” CRIOCH