Minister to meet GAA club over drugs 'epidemic'

Setanta GAA club sent a letter

Ryan Nugent

Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne has admitted there has been an increase in the use of crack cocaine in some areas.

Ms Byrne wants to meet representatives of a Ballymun GAA club after officials there raised fears that use of the drug in their area was at epidemic levels.

Setanta GAA club sent the minister an open letter, in which they claimed crack cocaine usage had increased tenfold in the area.

Ms Byrne responded on Friday, indicating that she was keen to meet a delegation from the club.


The club have asked her to visit them at their clubhouse at the earliest possible date.

In her letter, Ms Byrne highlighted the "intimidating and frightening" environment associated with the illicit drugs market.

Ms Byrne also pointed to the use of violence to enforce debts.

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.

"We, as a GAA club for Ballymun, are at the frontline dealing with the ramifications this cancer in our society brings, while also trying to educate the future generation about the evils of drugs through our awareness programme."

The club added that young people were being groomed to deal drugs "on a weekly basis".

Responding to the letter last week, Ms Byrne said: "I know from the feedback received, in particular from community-based projects working in the area of drugs, including Ballymun, that there has been an increase in the use of crack cocaine.

"Criminal activity and an active illicit drug market can create an intimidating and frightening environment for families and communities.

"Unfortunately, the use of violence or the threat of violence to enforce debts further impacts on these communities by creating an atmosphere of fear," she added.

The minister pointed to a number of actions to support families and communities affected by drug problems and said she would be happy to meet the club to "further discuss your concerns".

Setanta GAA club secretary Liam O'Brien has responded, saying that they would meet Ms Byrne at her earliest convenience.