An awareness campaign in Blanchardstown has been hailed by the country’s top garda for highlighting the link between drugs and violent crime.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has endorsed the Think Before You Buy initiative, which sees young footballers spreading the message via a logo on their new kit.
The shirts – worn by Corduff FC and St Brigid’s GAA in Castleknock (see pic, right) – were sponsored by the Blanchardstown Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force.
The scheme has now been adopted by clubs in Derry and Sligo and there are plans to introduce it across Swords and north Fingal and elsewhere in Dublin.
Philip Jennings, of Safer Blanchardstown, who was involved with the project from the start, told Dublin Gazette: “This is part of a wider campaign to raise awareness.
“These are young lads playing football, but it’s not just a young person’s issue. People from all walks of life are using drugs for recreational purposes at the weekend.”
The National Advisory Committee for Drugs and Alcohol estimate 9% of adults use drugs each weekend and Think Before You Buy warns that this generates huge profits for gangs.
It calculates that if each adult using drugs spends just €10 per weekend, that translates into €3,692,582 per week, or a staggering €192,014,264 a year for gangs.
It warns: “It is the vast amount of money involved in recreational drug use that helps explain why drug gangs are prepared to commit murder.
“You are the first and most important link in the drugs supply chain.”
Mr Jennings said the savage murder of 17-year-old gang enforcer Keane Mulready Woods in Drogheda recently sent “shockwaves” right across the community.
Mr Jennings added: “Recreational drug use is generating huge amounts of money. That is where all the violence is coming from. Teenagers are now adding the cost of their cocaine to their budget for their Debs, along with their suit hire and other expenses.
“If parents look at their 12-year-old children moving into secondary school; as soon as they get into secondary school, they’re going to have to start negotiating the drugs issue.
“If we get the message out to everyone it might become a moral code – why you shouldn’t use drugs at the weekend – the same as why you should never drink and drive.
“People who think: ‘I’m just paying my tenner and it’s nothing to do with me’ have a very selfish attitude. We need to wake up to this now.”