Garda Drugs Squad numbers decline while problem grows – Crowe
Dublin South West and Sinn Fein TD Seán Crowe has described the number of Garda Síochána currently assigned to each Divisional Drugs Unit as totally inadequate for the amount of work at hand. Garda numbers are declining, while at the same time the drugs and the menace associated with the trade continues to grow. Crowe, a member of the local Tallaght Drugs Task Force described the inaction of the Criminal Assets Bureau against many of the local businesses of drug dealers “as illogical and extremely puzzling.”
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“Drug dealing and the ready availability of hard drugs are on the increase and no one in government can deny that. It is a lucky town or village across Ireland that hasn’t been impacted in some way by our drugs epidemic, with a growing number of suicides being attributed to coming down off hard drugs or the pressure of mounting drug debts.
“Running in tandem with this decline are the numbers of An Garda Síochána currently dedicated and assigned to each Divisional Drugs Unit to tackle availability of illegal drugs.
“We have the spectacle of open drug dealing in many of our cities and towns with children as young as 12 years of age involved but there is no banner screaming headlines, and sadly little or no public outcry.
“People are frightened or unaware of the extent of drugs available.
“The policy of ignoring Ireland’s drugs crisis by officialdom has put vulnerable communities and individuals at serious risk, for far too long.
“Areas in Dublin that are the worst hit have seen a severe reduction in resources for Garda Drug Units with dedicated officers cut, from 147 in 2011 to 114 this year.
“Any cursory look at Tallaght and its hinterland will confirm that the drugs problem has got steadily worse, while at the same time the State’s response to actually tackle the problem have been shrinking or been withdrawn altogether.
“Responding to a recent parliamentary question I put to her, the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald confirmed that the number of Gardaí assigned to the DMR South Division drugs unit dropped from 30 in 2010 to 19 in March of this year.
“This pattern cannot be allowed continue.
“Allowing this to fester corrupts society and encourages more of the same. The level of crime linked to drugs is escalating with the violence stemming from the drug trade continuing to rise and pose a serious danger to everyone.
“Young school going children are being used as drug runners and the intimidation of families over alleged drug debts has grown beyond the few isolated cases of just a few years ago.
“The call from many Drug Task Forces for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to be more active locally has been met with a blanket silence from Government and the Garda Authorities.
“The use of CAB is logical progression and would be extremely popular in communities having to live cheek by jowl with drug dealing.
“While CAB’s focus may be on ‘Mr Big’, communities are left with the sight of the middlemen and their minions, dealing on street corners, or in easily identified houses right in the heart of some neighbourhoods.
“Residents are also puzzled that the same known drug dealers seem immune from enforcement with many driving fancy cars, living lavish and opulent lifestyles - seemingly free to buy up houses, shops, restaurants and other businesses a ‘stone’s throw’ away from their main ‘patch’.
“Surely this has to stop as it sends all the wrong messages out to young people and those trapped in the cycle of drug taking and drug addiction.
“The Governments ‘head in the sand’ attitude to drugs related crisis is wrong and needs to stop. The fight against drugs needs new resources, new personnel and most importantly, a new and different approach.”