Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has described a new report, titled ‘Building Community Resilience’, as a wakeup call for the government, An Garda Síochána, and society as a whole. The report from Dr. Johnny Connolly of the University of Limerick found that children as young as 12 years of age were being used by drug gangs in Dublin’s South Central.

Crowe, who is also a member of the Tallaght Drugs Task Force, welcomed the report’s assertion that while the challenge of eradicating this practice is significant, it is still manageable with the right approach and the right resources.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“I want to welcome this report from Dr. Johnny Connolly and I believe it should be required reading for every government Minister and TD.

“The report, Building Community Resilience, was commissioned by four policing fora in Dublin South Central. It found that children, some as young as 12 years of age, are being used by two specific drug gangs that are based in the area.

“People’s willingness to get involved in criminal networks is also addressed in the report. The author suggests that some get entrapped through drug debt, some start because of the perceived potential material benefits that can be obtained, while for others it the misbelief that their status can be improved in the community. It also suggests that some senior criminals are admired, and many young people emulate these parasites. 

“It makes for disturbing reading and follows on from other reports about children being used by drug gangs. A recent report by the Blanchardstown Drugs Task Force came up with similar findings about children, some as young as 8 years old, being used by criminal gangs as couriers, dealers, and for intimidation and the recovery of alleged drug debts.

“Unfortunately, in many parts of Dublin South West it is nearly impossible not to see this pattern repeating itself, particularly in areas where open drug dealing occurs and has been evident for a long time.

“The nature of the drugs epidemic has changed over the years and it is becoming increasingly violent and vicious. Illicit drugs are being openly sold by children who are caught up in criminality and face a bleak future.

“We need to respond to this challenge collectively as a society and with a sense of urgency and belief that it can change. Communities are more than ready for the challenge, but it needs leadership and to be driven by government and state agencies.

“I firmly believe that with the right partnership approach we can work to move young people away from criminality, with the added bonus of building safer and healthier communities.

“The positive news is that the authors of these reports believe the challenge is manageable and can be overcome with substantial state investment and long term buy in from An Garda Síochána, government Departments, and state agencies.”