Cocaine as easy to buy in Galway as ‘bag of sugar’ as almost as much seized in eight weeks as all of 2022
• 13h ago
Cocaine is now as easy to source in rural Galway “as a bag of sugar” with young people increasingly turning to the drug because of the “exorbitant” increase in the price of alcohol.
Drug dealer stock image© Desk Prod
That is according to members of the County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC), who yesterday heard that almost as much cocaine was seized by Gardaí in Galway in the first eight weeks of this year as was seized in all of 2022.
Galway Chief Superintendent, Gerard Roche, has put a renewed focus on breaking the drugs supply-chain in the county since taking control of the Galway Garda Division last November.
The Galway Garda Drug Unit is now one of the largest in the country outside of Dublin and boasts two sergeants and 20 gardaí, with the focus now on tackling the sale and supply of drugs, rather than simple possession.
In January and February of this year, €120,000 worth of cocaine was seized in Galway City and County, compared to €140,000 seized in the entire of 2022.
The meeting heard that this figure was “only the tip of the iceberg” in terms of cocaine use in Galway, with Fine Gael councillor, Peter Roche, blaming increases in the price of alcohol for pushing people towards using cocaine.
“I don’t think that there is a community anywhere in the county which is not suffering because of drugs. It’s not unusual these days to see people resorting to drugs because of the rising cost of alcohol,” he said.
“People need to socialise and I think that the extortionate cost of alcohol is an issue and it is driving drug use.”
Headford councillor, Andrew Reddington (FG), called for a focus to be placed on education in schools and increased efforts to prevent young people from starting to experiment with illegal drugs.
“It’s as easy to get a bag of cocaine as it is to get a bag of sugar in rural Galway at the moment,” he said.
“We need to reach the young people early. It’s a much more difficult situation to tackle people when they are already using it.”
Chief Superintendent Roche warned that Galway drug dealers are becoming increasingly “volatile” and said that the main focus for the Gardaí must be to tackle the drugs supply chain as well as anyone involved in money laundering and intimidation.
“If we put a lot of resources into drugs, we will get results. I want to make things very difficult for the people who are going down the lines of sale and supply,” he said.
“We have arrested groups who are starting to become quite volatile in the city and county but this drugs strategy takes a lot of effort and a lot of resources.
“Cocaine use is now endemic and it is in every class of society. If a person wants to take drugs, they will do it. It is our job to disrupt the sale and supply of drugs and make life as uncomfortable as possible for anyone involved.”
Galway Independent TD, Catherine Connolly, called for a drug treatment facility located in Merlin Park Hospital in Galway to be reopened.
This facility has been closed since it was gutted in an arson attack in 2013 and a HSE spokesperson told the JPC in 2020 that it has no plans to reopen it and will instead focus on community-based addiction services.
“It is very clear that the [addiction] services are inadequate on the ground in Galway,” she said.
“In the past, there was a fantastic facility in Merlin Park. That building burned down, there was insurance there to rebuilt it, but it never happened.”
Chief Superintendent Roche declined to comment on the Merlin Park facility, saying it was a matter for the HSE, but said there was a great need for more resources to tackle addiction.
“We need a lot more [resources to tackle addiction]. Prosecuting people is of no benefit without treatment,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Roche also said that the spike in cocaine usage is leading to “increased aggression” among people socialising in Galway as well as greater incidents of attempted suicide.
“Increased aggression is also being shown to people while they are out and about, which is possibly due to the increase in cocaine use