Children as young as 13 paid €300 to move drugs around the capital
Children as young as 13 are being paid €300 to courier packages of drugs around Dublin.
Community representatives in the north inner city have told politicians that schoolchildren are being lured into becoming drug mules by big cash payments.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed: "Young children can earn a fortune. They are told to bring a packet to a certain place and they will then get €200.
"They are telling the other children that they are mugs not to be involved because it is lucrative and so on."
Mr Martin was told of the practice during a meeting with a number of community leaders last week organised by Dublin councillor Mary Fitzpatrick.
He said drug dealers were "ruling the roost in their local communities".
"They are giving up to €200 or €300 to 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds to distribute tablets on the streets," Mr Martin said.
Ms Fitzpatrick said her information was that dealers target "vulnerable" children and addicts to do their business.
"Despite the fact this community is located right in the centre of the city, there is huge economic deprivation with a high dependency on social welfare and a high level of early school leaving.
"In that environment €200 is an enormous amount of money, especially for a young person," Ms Fitzpatrick said.
She said that many teenagers were growing up in houses shared with three generations of the one family and while they tried to do well at school, their domestic situation made it difficult. "For young people growing up in this area, their career options don't seem bright. It's easy money and hugely tempting, and for many of them irresistible."
Ms Fitzpatrick also said the open dealing of prescription drugs was widespread.