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Fight against drugs must be conducted in genuine partnership with local communities - Ó Snodaigh

10 October, 2006


Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said, "any Garda-led effort to curb supply and demand in the illegal drugs market will be ineffective unless it is conducted in genuine partnership with local communities." Speaking to a private members motion on Drugs in the Dáil this evening Deputy Ó Snodaigh called for increased resources for An Garda Síochána National Drugs Unit, Local Drugs Units and Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers.

He said, "Any meaningful attempt to prevent gangland crime and shootings will be dependent on effective steps being taken to tackle supply and demand in the drugs market at the international, national and local level.

"Operations Marigold and Anvil must be properly resourced if their effectiveness in terms of meeting there complementary objectives is to be improved. Likewise the resources available to An Garda Siochana National Drugs Unit, Local Drugs Units and Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers must be increased. This could be achieved via a retargeting of Garda resources and the civilianisation of certain appropriate tasks which would free up the Gardai who are trained in crime fighting. This should not be attempted via the introduction of an under-trained, unaccountable volunteer reserve who would only serve to compound matters.

"But the government must recognise that, no matter how many resources are made available to the drugs units, any Garda-led effort to curb supply and demand in the illegal drugs market will be ineffective unless it is conducted in genuine partnership with local communities. The onus is on the government to ensure that opportunities for local community participation in Garda decision-making are guaranteed across the state. And accountability structures must be put in place as a matter of urgency to ensure that the Gardai take full cognisance of the priorities identified by the communities they serve.

"Sinn Fein welcomes the establishment of 13 pilot Joint Policing Committees in various local authorities across the state. While the JPCs do not meet Sinn Fein's proposed policing reforms they are a step in the right direction and I hope they will become a vehicle for communities to voice their policing priorities including drugs issues and anti-social behaviour. Unfortunately the Labour Party failed to embrace the principle of inclusiveness underpinning the JPCs and instead attempted to hijack the committees for party political purposes. I urge the Minister to amend the JPC guidelines before the pilot is extended to prevent this from happening further.

"I commend the motion before us today to all parties and I would also urge the government to reconsider the broader motion tabled by Sinn Fein last May." ENDS

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