Feuding gangsters using 12-year-olds to transport drugs

(Stock image)

Kevin Doyle

Children as young as 12 are being recruited by criminals linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud to transport drugs.

The head of the Implementation Board set up to help revive Dublin's north inner city has warned "quick wins" are ­needed to help young people avoid getting caught up in the bitter gangland war.

Michael Stone told the Irish Independent the people of the area were "resilient" and wanted to move out from under the shadow of the violence.

Fifteen lives have so far been lost in the feud, including two in recent weeks, but Mr Stone said: "My mantra to everybody is we need to keep doing positive things."

Seven months into his voluntary position, he believes "positive role models" are "desperately" needed.

"At the moment, they see these guys going around in their fancy cars and so on. That's their role model. That needs to change," he said. "We need to get young people who have either come out of addiction or are in retraining mode, to get them into employment in the area."

The reason for this is that schoolchildren are being lured towards drugs by ruthless dealers who use them as pawns.

There are "three or four hotspots" in the Dublin 1 area where open dealing takes place.

Asked why gardaí can't just clamp down on those spots, Mr Stone replied: "These people move on. They're young people, as young as 12 years of age, involved in the couriering and management of this. They've a very efficient organisation."

Progress is being made on three social housing ­projects, new CCTV, networking schools and delivering more ­amenities such as the recently ­redeveloped swimming pool on Sean ­MacDermott Street.

The National College of Ireland has started a programme where 'readers' do home calls to help children who would otherwise be "way behind" by the time they start school.

And a number of IFSC-based businesses are on board to provide work experience.

"Everyone hopes the murder last week was the last murder," Mr Stone said.

The people of the north inner city are "very, very resilient" but they are hurting.

For that reason, Mr Stone concluded: "We can only just keep driving forward."