Sinn Féin bill would protect children from being groomed into criminality - Mark Ward TD
A bill introduced by Sinn Féin TDs Mark Ward, Martin Kenny and Denise Mitchell that would make it a standalone offence for adults to use the children in our communities for the sale and distribution of drugs will be debated at second stage in the Dáil later today.
Teachta Ward is calling for cross-party support for the Coercion of a Minor (Misuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill.
Teachta Ward said:
“The cycle of poverty and disadvantage leading to children being vulnerable to grooming by drug gangs is something we, as legislators, need to break. Our bill will address that and ensure Gardaí and the Courts Service can charge a criminal with, what is effectively, the exploitation of our children.
“This legislation is focused on the adults involved in criminality and drug dealing, who target and coerce children to move and supply drugs for them.
“For far too long, criminals have groomed children in both urban and rural communities across Ireland. The children in our communities deserve to be protected from this criminality and kept safe so that they can have a better future. We cannot allow drug gangs to continue to be such a scourge in our communities.
“This Bill will make it a standalone offence for adults to use the children in our communities for the sale and distribution of drugs. It is a simple piece of legislation, but if it passes it will have a major impact in our communities
“If passed, this legislation will ensure these criminals are held to account and cannot use our children to make massive profits for themselves. Anyone found guilty of this offence will also face a prison sentence that fits the crime.
“Older criminals using children for criminal activities is not a new phenomenon in disadvantaged areas. However, there has been a visible increase in our communities over the last couple of years.
“Young people are being targeted by older, experienced drug dealers to sell and deliver their drugs. Children are being groomed by unscrupulous drug dealers and are attracted by the flashy cars, the new runners, the few bob in their pockets and the status of being considered a so-called somebody.
“We need to be proactive rather than reactive and target these young people with the appropriate diversionary services before they end up in the hands of drug dealers.”