Fianna Fail Dublin Mid-West TD John Curran says the fight against crack cocaine must start at local level.
This follows a recent report from Coolmine, a Dublin based organisation supporting people with drug addiction, that showed 33% of all its admissions were for crack addiction, overtaking heroin at 31%.
Deputy Curran told Dublin Gazette that communities in west Dublin are growing concerned with the rising problem on their doorsteps.
“People are complaining to me that dealers are openly selling drugs in many public places in the area,” he said.
“The consequences of crack cocaine use and its illegal sale in our communities is deeply troubling.
“I don’t want to be singling out specific areas but it’s quite obvious in recent months that there has been shift in drug trends in west Dublin, with discarded used needles, pipes and tinfoil being found in public spaces.”
Deputy Curran said he believes the problem now requires a specialist response from the state in the form of increased funding for both the gardai and local task forces.
“I want to be fair to the gardai who are doing a great job while dealing with substantial cuts to their services in recent years.
“For instance, in 2012 Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West L Division had 28 gardai.
“In May this year they had 16. That is a significant reduction and means drug units are under increasing pressure to respond to an unprecedented degree in distribution of a drug that is rapidly destroying once healthy individuals and tearing apart once close knit families.
“Any successful attempt to gain control of the spread of this drug rests on the gardaí’s ability to ruthlessly target and disrupt the suppliers and dealers of crack cocaine.
“The cuts also to community gardai in DMR has been significant, a few years ago it was 80-90, now it is in the high 60’s, although it is on the increase.
“Community gardai are a valuable source of information, people trust them.
“While the gardai have been recording some significant seizures nationally worth millions of euro, they need to be doing it at street level and at a more frequent pace to have any meaningful impact of the flow of and prevent them from reaching communities.
“This is a scourge never before seen in Ireland, an altogether new approach is needed.
“One that incorporates the work of the prison service, the HSE, the Department of Social Protection and An Garda Síochana.”
When contacted by Dublin Gazette, the gardai gave the following response in regard to their efforts to combat the crack epidemic in west Dublin.
“Many areas of Dublin City have a problem regarding the sale, possession and use of controlled drugs.
“Crack Cocaine does feature prominently in detections as does Diamporphine, Cannabis and prescription type Drugs.
“Gardai have a number of operations in progress to combat and disrupt the sale and supply of controlled drugs.
“These operations cannot be published for operational reasons but gardaí are committed to reducing the levels which can also be construed as a health issue.
“AGS meet local representatives and work closely with DCC and social services to address these issues.
“Every district in Dublin city has a local drug unit that tackles the sale and distribution of controlled drugs at a local level.
“Anyone with any information that could help gardai combat drug dealers should ring the Garda Confidential Line Freephone on 1800 666111 or ring GNDOCB on +353 1 6669900.”