There has been a failure to provide adequate community and family supports in the “war on drugs”, according to a Louth TD.
Deputy Ruairi Ó Murchú raised the wider issues of criminal gangs and drugs during a debate in Leinster House last week where he welcomed the “increased resources for drugs squad activities, particularly in Dundalk and Drogheda, where there have been major disruptions to the drugs supply.”
But he added: “We need work on the citizens' assembly and more novel ways of dealing with this. The local superintendent attended a community meeting and the drugs squad was reformed in Dundalk. There were significant results. He said at the time it could do with more numbers, whether 50 or 100 more gardaí. Then he stopped himself and said to show him anywhere where someone has actually taken on and won the war on drugs.”
“We all accept that dangerous criminals need to be dealt with and the courts system has sufficient resources to make sure the process does not take forever, but there is wider work to do. It goes without saying we have to deal with the wider issue of poverty.”
Deputy Ó Murchú said: “My biggest concern is we have failed to deliver the required community and family supports. Even though there is a cost to doing these, we have seen pilot projects that have worked for many years. We have a very unfortunate history in this State of operating pilot schemes and leaving them in a small number of areas and not necessarily rolling them out. Sometimes, where they are working in small areas with limited numbers, we do not expand their resources but we expand the region they have to deal with. They then have the same issue as in all other under-resourced services that are under pressure and they cannot deliver for the people.”
He added: “We need a sufficient number of gardaí, resources in court and addiction services to address the drugs issue. We have work to do on diversion programmes. We are failing early on by not investing enough resources in young people, their families and the wider community so that we can get to a better place. We have a complete multi-agency response to education and health. It is also about ensuring we can bridge a gap so that marginalised people, in particular, can get employment or into further education. We have many of the correct pieces. We just have not put them and the system together.”