CRACK cocaine use, drug addiction and youth crime have spiralled in Ballymun after a cut in garda numbers, a report has found.
‘Ballymun – A Brighter Future’, commissioned by Dublin City Council, found that criminal gangs are targeting people using opiates to get them hooked on crack cocaine.
It recommends that 40-50 additional gardaí are needed to tackle the crime wave in hotspots within the north Dublin suburb where there are just a handful of drugs officers and community gardai.
“This reduction in policing may have been a key factor in the significant rise in drug problems in the area,” the report states.
“Frequent, sustained, visible policing will be required, as well as environmental enhancements or in some cases house building by the council.
“While we can’t eliminate addiction and all criminal activity, we can do more to protect the next generation of children growing up in Ballymun and reduce the number of traumatic experiences in their lives.
“This will help prevent them from being drawn into serious substance misuse and criminality.”
The crack cocaine surge brought a spate of ‘house take-overs’ or ‘cuckooing’ to the community – where criminal gangs take control of the homes of vulnerable people in order to use them for drug dealing and consumption and other criminal activity.
The report was created by former lord mayor Andrew Montague who chairs the Ballymun Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force.
It says that, while a regeneration project has brought much-need improvements to Ballymun’s physical infrastructure, “social change was always going to be harder, and take longer, and much remains to be done.”
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North West, Paul McAuliffe, welcomed the publication of the report which was commissioned following a request by Deputy McAuliffe during his tenure as Lord Mayor.
The Council asked for practical and achievable recommendations regarding a number of significant concerns about drugs and criminality raised by the local community and local agencies in recent years.
He said: “For those who believe that physical regeneration alone fixed the problems of Ballymun, the report demonstrates how underlying disadvantage, addiction and unemployment has directly impacted on the creation of open drug markets in the area.
“The report clearly outlines actions and recommendations which need to be taken, and as the only government TD in the constituency, I intend to use whatever influence I have to ensure the actions are delivered.”
Amongst the recommendations included in the report are for the HSE to Provide 10 senior social workers to the child protection team for Ballymun, a scheme for early school leavers, more gardai, and restoration of the ‘Strive’ probation scheme.