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Government must open eyes to cocaine crisis – Crowe

10 January, 2007

Speaking today Sinn Féin's Community Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe criticised the government's "lack of urgency in attempting to tackle the drugs crisis" and demanded that the government open its eyes to the extent of cocaine use in this state.

The Dublin South-West TD said, "Successive governments' policies on drugs have been appalling. While communities were abandoned in the eighties and nineties to cope with the heroin crisis themselves, it was even more infuriating that anti-drug activists were subsequently targeted by the state instead of the parasitic drug dealers themselves.

"Now we are witnessing a cocaine epidemic, with over a 1,600 per cent increase in the quantity of the drug being smuggled into the country since 2000. There is still no proper strategy in place to tackle cocaine and community activists are justifiably extremely concerned with the government's lack of urgency.

"Minister Noel Ahern with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy and his government need to wake up to the scale of this problem, which has been further highlighted with 100 per cent of bank notes recently examined, found to have traces of cocaine. There needs to be increased Garda resources and improved medical and community responses to this problem.

"The glamorisation and acceptance of cocaine as a clean, safe and sociable drug needs to be tackled. Cocaine abuse continues to result in serious health deterioration, mental and emotional problems, chronic addiction, debt, and rising gangland killings and reprisals. While it is now no longer exclusively the drug of the middle-classes, everyone, particularly most well-off people seemingly oblivious to communities scourged by drugs, should examine their conscience next time they have a line of coke and realise that their actions have repercussions for communities gripped in fear by drug gangs, who are essentially parasites destroying predominantly working-class areas. Using cocaine is not merely a personal choice; it has major ramifications for society at large.

"The government must devise a strategy to tackle cocaine and should adequately resource and fund treatment projects to combat Ireland's rapidly increasing poly-drug use problem. A significant proportion of addicts reporting for treatment are increasingly dabbling in cocaine. There is also a worrying development in the increase in those injecting cocaine, which can result in huge medical implications with users experiencing abscesses and wounds and even serious infection leading to amputations of limbs.

"At community level, investment must be pumped into areas most at risk and vulnerable to the drugs scourge to provide social and sporting alternatives for young people." Críoch

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