Ireland is Sinking in Drugs, Cocaine in every, Village and Town, Parents forced to pay, Drug Debts, for their Children, and Gardai, believe me, Way behind the Gangland Dealers, not Forgetting the Rogue Gardai, being Paid off?

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Drug use outside schools and dealers coming to the front door: Ireland’s youth drug crisis

 – 5 May 2022

INTIMIDATION, OVERT DEALING and drug use near play areas and schools are the result of a drug crisis among Ireland’s youth which activists believe is worsening. 

© ShutterstockDrug use outside schools and dealers coming to the front door: Ireland’s youth drug crisis

While gardaí are cracking down on both drug dealing and drug use taking place outside some secondary schools, campaigners and addiction specialists have called for drugs to be decriminalised and treated as a public health issue instead of a criminal one.

Cocaine, cannabis and heroin are suspected of being sold and used outside schools in pockets of Dublin, according to security sources. 

The issue has become so problematic that Dublin City Council has set up a sub-committee to address the problem of people using drugs on school grounds. 

Gardaí, councillors and local drugs task forces will meet regularly in a bid to curtail the crisis. 

Independent councillor for Finglas and Ballymun Noeleen Reilly told The Journal that the sub-committee was set up to stop children having to face drug use when they go to school. 

She said: “What’s happening is that the school grounds are being used to do drugs. Paraphernalia is being found by children at both national and secondary schools across Dublin. There are big open spaces there which are being used when students are not there, and people are leaving things behind that children should not have to see when they are coming to school. 

“There are people defecating on school grounds. There are a lot of people hanging around. Sometimes there are bus stops near schools, convenient for people to meet up. Where the users are, the dealers are not far away.” 

There are similar incidents happening south of the Liffey in Tallaght, where gardaí are looking to clamp down on drug gangs who are recruiting teenagers to be dealers, according to multiple sources.

These teenagers are suspected of dealing both in schools and outside the school gates, according to security sources. 

‘War On Drugs’

Sinn Féin councillor Louise Dunne, who represents the Tallaght area and who also works as an addiction specialist, told The Journal that there is a serious problem across Dublin with both drug use and dealing and that the “current war on drugs is just not working in Ireland”. 

She explained that children as young as nine are getting caught up in the drug trade and being groomed as future dealers. 

“Young people see it as a way out of poverty. I have seen children as young as nine, 10 and 11 becoming involved,” she said.

They see the flash cars and the nice clothes and then you have families struggling to make ends meet and see dealing as a way out of that. We need to decriminalise drugs in this country and make it a medical issue. If you lock up a drug dealer, there’s another one always coming up behind them.

“There are the 14 and 15-year-olds who are out there dealing and they know they won’t get into that much trouble. They will probably get a JLO (juvenile liaison officer) and then they’ll go on dealing.”

The JLO scheme was set up as a diversionary programme for young offenders. 

Instead of a criminal conviction, the young person is given the chance to admit to their crime as part and is offered one of a range of options to make amends.

Specially-trained Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs) are assigned to work with them.

But Dunne says there are also community action groups who are out there doing great work in diverting children away from lives of crime and into employment. 

“The last thing I want is for people to think somewhere like Tallaght is just a bad area with bad people. There is so much good here that outweighs the bad and there are so many people here who love their area and who take care of the place.” 

Drug intimidation

However, a recurring theme across Dublin is the scourge of drug intimidation, which is blighting communities. 

From south to north Dublin, intimidation of people who have fallen into a drug debt is deemed a “massive, massive problem” by those in the know.

Councillor Ted Leddy, who represents the Blanchardstown area of west Dublin, said he is hearing about parents of school-going children having to pay thousands to drug dealers who are showing up outside their doors. 

“This is a real concern which is going under the radar,” he said.

“Young people are passing the debt onto their parents who have to get loans to pay off criminals. It’s hard to say on what scale this is happening because it goes so unreported. 

“But what happens is all of a sudden a drug dealer is calling to the door and says to the parents ‘your son owes us €5k so you better pay up’.”

Local councillor for Ballymun/Finglas Anthony Connaghan described similar situations in his area.

“Young lads are being given drugs on tick. They’re getting it and a couple of weeks later they’re being forced to hold stuff for dealers or dropping stuff for them because they can’t afford to pay it back.

“They’re being thrown drugs and then they’re caught in a loop and now they have to be involved in the activity. You hear anecdotal stuff like people having to remortgage their homes because some young lads get in so deep. 

“I can tell you that I know someone who had a dealer knock down at the door, and said ‘your son owes me cash – you better have a €1,000 tonight or I’m putting all your windows in’.”

A Garda Inspector is nominated in every Garda Division to respond to the issue of drug-related intimidation. Individuals and family members experiencing intimidation can make contact with the local inspector through their local Garda Station for an informal or formal meeting. 

Decriminalisation

A campaign for the decriminalisation of drugs has been ongoing for several years in Ireland. 

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the country needs to change the culture around drug use in Ireland.

Ó Ríordáin, who has campaigned for a health-based approach to drugs in Ireland, said the Government should pursue a harm-reduction approach to drugs.

“We need to have a culture change in our approach to drug use in this country. Decriminalisation means decriminalisation of the user, not the drug,” he said.

“This approach would save lives and free up valuable Garda resources to tackle organised crime, rather than going after the victims of crime. While the matter of drug addiction is absolutely a health issue, the decriminalisation of the user should rest squarely with justice.

“Where decriminalisation of the user has been implemented, like in Portugal, we have seen a fall in overdose deaths, drug related crime, problematic drug use, and a reduction in the number of people sent to jail for possession. This cultural shift took many years, but the successes are real.”

In 2019, the Government announced new plans for dealing with personal drug use, which would see first time offenders referred to the HSE for health screening. 

The changes are being made as part of a new health-led approach to personal drug use, instead of criminalising those found with drugs.

This approach, according to the Government, will aim to connect people who use drugs with health services to support them on their path to recovery.

In the first instance of being found in possession, gardaí will refer the person to health services. In the second instance, gardaí will have discretion to issue an adult caution. Third and further offences will be treated within the criminal justice system, as is the case currently.

The Council sub-committee is due to meet on Monday to discuss ongoing efforts to rid the Finglas and Ballymun areas of drug waste as well as the constant dealing. Local reps have been promised more garda resourcing in these area over the coming weeks in a bid to stamp out the overt drug use. 

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