Crime Special: Cry out for judiciary to support communities in tackling the drug epidemic
By Mary Dennehy
THE judiciary is “disengaging communities” by allowing drug offenders back into estates by handing down the Probation Act, with calls made for the courts to consider the impact of their decisions on communities.
As cases of open drug-dealing and drug-related intimidation continue across communities, Labour Party councillor Mick Duff has called on the judiciary to support communities in tackling the drug epidemic.
The local councillor believes that while it is “disheartening” for communities to see people, who openly deal in their estates, released by the courts, it also sends a dangerous message to the area’s young people – who are being lured into drug-running under the impression there are no consequences.
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 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 invited members of the local judiciary to meet with the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol 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 gardai 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 are less effective.”