Calls on judiciary to support communities and tackle the “devastating impact” drugs have

Calls on judiciary to support communities and tackle the “devastating impact” drugs have

By Mary Dennehy

THE judiciary is disengaging communities by allowing drug offenders back into estates by handing down the Probation Act, a Tallaght councillor has claimed.

As cases of open drug-dealing and drug-related intimidation continue across Tallaght communities, Labour Party councillor Mick Duff has called on the judiciary to support communities in tackling the drug epidemic.

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Last year in Tallaght, gardaí made more than 100 detections for the sale and supply of drugs, which ranged from small quantities worth €100 to bigger hauls of €500,000 plus.

According to Garda information, there was also 342 detections for the possession of drugs for personal use.

A number of these detections ended up with a conviction, with some cases still up before the courts and others processed through the Juvenile Liaison Officer or Probationary Service.

Cllr Duff, who is the co-ordinator of the Community Drug Treatment Project in St Aengus, believes that, while there is a dedicated drugs unit in Tallaght, decisions made by the judiciary are not supporting communities – with a high volume of drug offenders getting a suspended sentence or remanded for a probation report and released on bail.

“People up before the courts on drugs offences are getting the Probation Act and are straight back out on the streets dealing and intimidating families,” Cllr Duff said.

“This is happening time and time again and people are genuinely starting to feel alone.

“Communities are disengaging, they are disheartened by the fact that people are openly dealing in their communities, despite being up before the courts on drug offences.

“Communities are starting to feel that it will never stop and they are simply closing their doors and hoping that it never crosses their path.”

He added: “A judge should be thinking about the impact and consequence of his or her decision on a community.

“Not only should a judge be considering the impact on the existing community but also on the new community, the younger generation coming up – which in many cases is drawn into a life of drugs through peer pressure, drug debts or the notion that crime pays.

“A lot of young people don’t see any consequences to a life of drugs when those up before the courts on drug offences are back out on the streets dealing and making money.”

Cllr Duff has invited members of the local judiciary to meet with the Tallaght Drugs Task Force to hear about the “devastating impact” drug-dealing is having on communities.

He said: “We need some joined-up thinking if we are ever going to support communities in tackling the issue of drugs.

“Local people, parents, community services, the local authority, the gardaí and the judiciary all need to be working together.

“However, without the judiciary considering the impact of a sentence on a community, the efforts of the rest of the community is less effective.

“Communities feel very exposed and there are kids getting drawn into drug gangs all the time, with these young people becoming the intimidators and demanding money from the parents of people they may have went to school with – or were their friends.

“It’s a very scary place for a community to be.”

Cllr Duff has also suggested that a drugs court is established in Tallaght, which could cater for the surrounding community of South Dublin County and into Wicklow and Kildare.

The drugs court, according to Cllr Duff, would help to identify people who are dealing because of their own addiction and link them in with community services and treatment projects.

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