The Tallaght-Whitechurch area of Dublin is facing a “tsunami” of crack cocaine addiction, with many victims being intimidated by dealers to try the drug, a new report has revealed.
The Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (TDATF) is calling for an extra €1m in funding as the number of people its treating for addiction has doubled in the last ten years.
Since 2017, there has been a 75pc increase in drug-related crime in the area, which includes the intimidation of women by dealers.
TDATF funds nine community addiction projects in the Tallaght-Whitechurch area and had its budget of €1.3m in 2010 cut to €1.2m this year.
The task force is calling for an additional €1m in Fovernment funding to take on more front-line staff to address the crack issue, create more residential addiction, develop more direct interventions for vulnerable young people, and to fund more Gardai on the ground.
The number of people using TDATF services because of crack cocaine addiction is among the highest in the country, and by this year one-third of those seeking help for the drug are women.
According to Grace Hill, TDATF co-ordinator, the onset of crack cocaine in the last three years means that services are at breaking point.
“Community drug services have been seriously underfunded for a number of years, but the growth in drug addiction, particularly crack cocaine, means that these services are under severe pressure, with waiting lists for vital supports for people in addiction,” she said.
“Crack cocaine causes chaos and destruction in the life of the person trapped in addiction and hugely affects their children, their wider family and community, including a growing number of women, have become trapped in a life of addiction and intimidation, who find it very difficult to escape the cycle of trauma and addiction without our help.”
Senator Lynn Ruane, who launched the report today, said families and communities in Tallaght are being abandoned by the Government.
“The people of Tallaght and Whitechurch and the services who support them have been pushed well beyond any acceptable level of resilience, and it is incumbent on the state to act and adequately fund this highly populated community to build capacity, to flourish and to escape the poverty levels that it experiences,” she said.
"You cannot read this report and ignore the relationship between poverty and addiction. The cost of a Government not funding this issue is far greater than the cost of funding it.”
The report included a survey that asked 308 people about drug use in the area.
Sixty-three percent of those that responded live in the TDATF area while 47pc also work in the area and 17pc have family or attend education in the area.
One respondent said they see intimidation on a daily basis and that older people are afraid to go to the shops “because of what they might face on the streets.”
They added: “People fighting and money being taken from people the minute they leave the Post Office, it’s going on everywhere.”
Another person who responded to the survey said specific houses in the area have been identified as "crack houses".
They added: “Crack is rampant and available at a phone call, it was tablets three years ago now it is so much worse, the level of prostitution is so sad.
“The fear of owing money and saying no when they pay money off their debt is too tempting so their debt just grows.”
Another person said the ease at which people can access drugs in the area is “like a Mac Donald’s Drive Thru, people arrive and pick up in seconds.”
One respondent said not only are younger people experimenting with drugs, they are also getting involved with the selling of drugs at a very young age.
“They are dealing at age 10 and 11 and by the time they are 15 or 16, they are holding packages worth €40 to €50,000 in some cases.”
They added that there are “threats of violence, putting windows through or damaging cars.
"This escalates to beatings and forcing someone to intimidate another person to settle a debt. Then there’s the more serious stuff such as houses being torched, or people being murdered.”
Multiple respondents said women are especially subject to intimidation, and use prostitution to get out of their debts.
“Women especially those who use crack cocaine are increasingly vulnerable to intimidation and forced behaviours, they are forced into selling themselves to settle debts.”