Drug report: Community voices need to be heard
Responding to today’s report on organised crime and drug dealing in Dublin’s South Inner City, Dublin Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin commented:
“Sadly it doesn’t come as a major surprise that children as young as 12 are being groomed by drug gangs in Dublin.
“The reality is that a lot of criminality is based around family structures, which can lead to young people being drawn into crime almost by default.
“As a society we need to have compassion for that 12-year-old and work at local level to ensure important voices in the community are being heard.
“The Government needs to show these communities that they are a priority.
“Instead we’ve been seeing a centralised, top-down approach to the National Drugs Strategy from the HSE and Department of Health, which has excluded the community sector and those at the coalface of these issues, with Local Drugs Task Force funding stagnant over the past few years.
“As Dr Connolly’s report pointed out today, community workers consistently say that the policing and safety structures in the area are ‘weak, disconnected, lacking in clear orientation and poorly resourced’.
“It also highlighted how crime networks can become ‘embedded in communities and normalised due to fear’.
“We can’t sit back and allow this climate of fear to become the norm.
“There are a lot of initiavties that work in the Inner City, where the voices of community organisations and local representatives are being heard.
“These need to be replicated so communities can feel safe.
“We also need to move beyond an immediate criminal justice response to drug use and juvenile drug crime.
“Other jurisdictions are thinking differently about how we approach this area, and we need to have that conversation in Ireland too.”