Dealers target schools with drug sales at lunch breaks
GARDAI are targeting drug dealing near secondary schools in a clampdown on the sale of illicit substances to teenagers at lunch breaks.
In what has been described as a "worrying" development, dealers are approaching teen-agers, who are pooling their resources to buy cannabis and other substances near the school grounds during recreational periods.
In the past three weeks in Kerry alone, two such operations have been foiled.
Gardai say most of the students involved in buying the drugs were from what would be regarded as good homes.
Last week, in Causeway in north Kerry, a 16-year-old and a 21-year-old were questioned following a raid by gardai.
Sgt Declan Liddane, head of the divisional drugs unit, told the Irish Independent: "There appears to be issues where older students, who have left various colleges or have been expelled, are targeting kids at lunch hour and we've decided that we're going to take them on.
"We've done this at two schools already in Kerry but it's not unique to these two schools," Sgt Liddane said.
According to gardai, cannabis and other substances are available. In one instance, a group of four or five teenagers had pooled their resources to buy a €50 bag of cannabis. However, they also believe some teenagers are becoming involved in dealing themselves.
"They might get their hands on €50 worth but sell it out dearer and have their own supply for the week for nothing so they're getting into dealing themselves without even realising it," Sgt Liddane added.
General secretary of the TUI John McGowan said while it was a cause of dismay, it stood to reason that there would be an attempt by dealers to entice or force students to buy drugs.
"Through supervision arrangements, teachers do their best to ensure this problem does not penetrate the school grounds but what happens outside the school, in the community, is a matter the school cannot control except to advise the students and assist them... and involve the gardai as appropriate," Mr McGowan said.
Stg Liddane said: "It's the significance of the problem where a school should be a place exclusively for learning.
"The students we spoke to who were in bother, their parents would be regarded as highly responsible and very involved."
Teachers' unions say the development is worrying and schools would have to work closely with the gardai, but added that parents also needed to be involved.
A spokesperson for the ASTI said all schools were required to have policies on these issues and to educate their students about the misuse of drugs.