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Martin Ferris TD - Gardaí need full backing in fight against crime

9 December, 2007


Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North, Martin Ferris, speaking at a special party conference in Dublin today [Sunday], raised the growing problem of crime and drug abuse in small towns across Ireland and called for "full community support for the Gardaí and full government support for communities".

Deputy Ferris said: "Gangs in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and elsewhere have declared war on Irish society. The Garda, the government and wider society need to tackle that challenge head on. I have been a republican all of my life and like many republicans have been at the receiving end of political policing. I remain a committed republican and I am unequivocal in saying that gardaí need and deserve the support of local communities, of elected representatives and of everybody in the fight against crime."

Deputy Ferris said: "Crime is a growing concern in all parts of the country and Kerry is no exception. While the crime that makes the headlines concerns large-scale drug seizures and murders that are often carried out by gangs involved in the drugs trade, many families are more concerned by what is called petty crime: robberies, burglaries, street thefts and anti-social behaviour, much of which is fuelled by drug and alcohol abuse.

"Although heroin abuse was unknown outside Dublin only a few years ago, today heroin and cocaine pose a serious problem in small towns such as Tralee. There has been an increase in crime and health and welfare services are struggling to cope. When drug gangs target towns like Tralee it is vital to provide the Garda and community and social services with the resources needed to tackle the problem.

"The level of Garda activity in Tralee and elsewhere in County Kerry is a matter of concern. While policing is not the only solution to crime, a greater Garda visibility is certainly a factor in crime prevention, particularly in respect of anti-social behaviour and drink-related violence in town centres at weekends. Despite promises for years now, such resources have not been provided and the problem is getting worse. "Drug gangs in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and elsewhere have declared war on Irish society. The Garda, the government and wider society needs to tackle that challenge head on.

"I am a republican all of my life and like many republicans have been at the receiving end of political policing in particular the Heavy Gang. But I am unequivocal in saying that the Gardaí need and deserve the support of local communities, of elected representatives and of everybody in the fight against crime and in particular the scourge of drugs.

"The Garda have my support and they have the full support of Sinn Fein and republicans across this island. I have been a member of the Joint Policing Committee in Tralee since it was first established and I will continue to engage with the Garda locally and the government in Dublin to ensure that the needs of the people of Kerry and elsewhere are addressed.

"We cannot be defeatist in the face of a problem that affects our quality of life in such a fundamental way. It is vital that the gardaí have the resources and strategy to combat organised crime. However, we also must ensure that communities retain their cohesion as this is the best way to ensure that young people in particular do not become sucked into anti-social behaviour and drug abuse. This is the reason it is so important that communities have access to employment and good quality housing and that local sports and other community organisations be encouraged to thrive and provide alternatives for people of all ages." ENDS

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