Thu, 18 Feb, 2021 – 06:30
Locals are demanding action on what they say is a “24/7 drugs supermarket” in a Limerick city centre housing estate.
Politicians and people working and living in St Mary’s Park — known as ‘Island Field’ — told the Irish Examiner the drugs trade has “never been worse”.
While senior gardaí promise a ‘relentless’ pursuit of criminal gangs, local politicians say a lack of enforcement and resources have allowed the drug trade to get out of hand in the area.
“It’s a bit like Aldi,” said one long-term resident of the area.
“There’s always traffic up and down, there are cars and taxis in and out and up and down out of houses. It’s gone well out of hand and it’s very sad.”
Local Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan is raising the issue in the Dáil today and will request a response from the Justice Minister and the Drugs Strategy Minister during statements on the National Drugs Strategy.
“The level of dealing is unbelievable, its 24/7 dealing,” he said.
“This is a good old working class community and the vast bulk are decent people, working all their lives, and putting up with this 24/7, people coming into the area buying drugs, a backlog of cars particularly on Monday mornings. The dealing has never been anything like it is now.”
He said: “I genuinely think local gardaí are doing their best, but it’s resources and the courts are backed up.”
Local Sinn Féin councillor John Costelloe, who has lived in the estate, said some residents are living in fear of what has become a blatant blight on the area.
“It’s a 24-hour supermarket. You go down at 9.10am on Monday morning and cars are pulling up,” he said.
Residents are sick and tired of people openly dealing drugs out of homes and gardaí are either turning a blind eye or haven’t got the resources.
He said the area, promised regeneration, has gotten worse.
“The physical landscape is scared, the demolitions are far too slow. They are hiding drugs in these derelict sites and they are dealing out of there.”
He said local people are scared to raise their voices and afraid to ring gardaí.
Garda HQ said the Limerick divisional drugs unit was increased to 18 gardaí in 2020 — despite other demands.
It said over €1.8m of drugs had been seized in 2020 and almost €400,000 in cash and an estimated four firearms, some of them, it is thought, around Island Field.
Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche said: “An Garda Síochána remains committed to supporting all communities in Limerick in successfully tackling the societal scourge of drug dealing.
Gardaí in Limerick will be relentless in dismantling criminal groups involved in the drugs trade in Limerick.”