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Tackling drugs crucial to the fight against gun crime – Doherty

17 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said to tackle serious gun crime in Ireland we must get to grips with the drugs crisis. Speaking in the Seanad today the Donegal Senator said Sinn Féin proposals to tackle serious drug and gun crime could see up to 4,000 Gardaí freed from administrative duties to fight crime.

He said, "There can be no doubt that the increased gun crime in this country is directly linked to the increased prevalence of drugs in our communities. With every major shipment of drugs entering the country a cache guns and ammunition accompanies. Therefore, to seriously tackle gun crime we must also focus on tackling the drugs crisis.

"A robust process of civilianisation will allow for a more effectively focussed use of existing Garda resources including the doubling of resources to the National and Local Drugs units.

"Sinn Féin has made a set of proposals, which we submitted to both the Gardaí and the Justice Minister to tackle serious drug and gun crime. Included in these is a proposal that could free up approximately 4,000 Gardaí from administrative tasks to be re-deployed into the fight against serious drug and gun crime. It must be demoralising for Gardaí, fully trained in fighting crime, to be stuck behind a desk. How many more people have to be gunned down before the Minister acts?

"Included in Sinn Féin's recommendations relating to Serious Drug and Gun Crime is the continued and increased pursuit of major drug traffickers and lower level dealers; to double the resources for Garda Drug Units; disbanding, re-training and re-deploying Garda Special Branch to focus on organised crime and increased Garda patrols on foot and bicycles in areas experiencing chronic problems of public drug dealing.

"While areas throughout this state are plagued by drug dealing, violent attacks and ant-social behaviour, this government has facilitated the regular deployment of up to 250 Gardaí to police peaceful protests in Bellanaboy, County Mayo. A staggering €8.1 million has been spent to date on Garda resources to police demonstrations against the unpopular Shell gas pipeline.

"These resources would be better deployed in the fight against serious drug and gun crime which is claiming lives on almost a weekly basis. The Gardaí have become hired security for Shell, with the taxpayer having to foot the bill while their own communities are being neglected. It's a great shame that this state does not protect its people like it protects multinationals. I would like to reiterate Sinn Féin's call on the Minister for Justice to immediately review the Garda operation at Bellanaboy with a view to redeploying Gardaí to where they are most needed." ENDS

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