Families living in fear of violence over use of crack cocaine
Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne has admitted that the use of crack cocaine - which is highly addictive - is on the rise.
Ms Byrne wants to meet members of a GAA club in Ballymun, north Dublin, after officials there raised fears that the use of the dangerous drug was hitting epidemic levels in their area.
Setanta GAA Club sent the minister an open letter in which it claimed crack cocaine use had increased tenfold in the community.
Ms Byrne said: "I know from the feedback received, in particular from community-based projects, including Ballymun, that there has been an increase in the use of crack cocaine.
She indicated that she was keen to meet a delegation from the club.
In her letter, seen by the Irish Independent, Ms Byrne highlighted the way communities are left living in fear due to the violence associated with the illegal drugs market.
"Criminal activity and an active illicit drug market can create an intimidating and frightening environment for families and communities."
"The use of violence of the threat of violence to enforce debts further impacts on communities by creating an atmosphere of fear," she said.
It is understood that children as young as 13 are being used to peddle drugs in the area, with the GAA club saying the community is at breaking point over the issue.
"The number of users walking the streets like skeletons is a minute-by-minute event for us all to see," said Setanta GAA Club.
It added that young people were being groomed to deal drugs "on a weekly basis".
Secretary of Setanta GAA Club Liam O'Brien responded saying they would meet Ms Byrne at her earliest convenience.