Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2019: Second Stage [Private Members]
Go raibh maith agat. We are not giving the gardaí the tools of the trade. Drug use is increasing but the fear of being caught is decreasing. That is my point.
Deputy Curran is doing an excellent job. He knows much more about this problem. I served in the Dáil with him in 2007 when he spoke about issues in Dublin city. We did not know what he was talking about at the time. We know now because the problem is in every town, village, townland and community in the country. I had a meeting last Sunday night in the Hotel Minella with the proprietor, John Allen, Michael O'Loughlin, Peter Murchin and a number of other public representatives to see what we could do to stop the prolific use of drugs by people in suits, like myself, who are in good jobs. They call it recreational use yet it is causing devastation and putting families through torture. In the past 18 months in south Tipperary, at least ten people have died because they owed small drug debts.
They went abroad and their families were terrorised. Then they came back and they were terrorised and they took their own lives. Yet, we do not have a mental health bed in Tipperary. The issues are staggering and we have to deal with them.
The amount of cocaine and other drugs being used nightly in the pubs and clubs is unbelievable. Our schools are doing their best but the whole thing is of epidemic proportions. Something has to be done and this is tosach maith, a good start.
They will be using these children as mules. That is well known. There are small children of seven or eight years of age going around dropping and delivering. It is pure shocking. In the towns of Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir, everyone knows who is doing this - they know the people. They pass the information on to the Garda but it does not have the resources to address it. We have six gardaí in the drugs squad for the whole country of Tipperary, which is 120 miles long. There used to be 15 or 20 gardaí in the unit and they did a great job, but six cannot do anything - they are powerless.
We have protected communities. We see what is going on in Drogheda, Mullingar and Dublin. There are significant Garda resources in place and I commend the members of the Garda on the brave work they do, but they are being threatened and intimidated.
I see what is going on in my native county of Tipperary and if it is not dealt with soon, it will be out of control completely. These gangs are terrorising people and operating with impunity because we do not have the resources to deal with them and put them away. The Bill is an effort by Deputy Curran to deal with that. It is a sad state of affairs that the schools and everywhere else are being destroyed because of this. It affects future generations. I have grandchildren, thankfully, as do many other people here. The Minister for Justice and Equality probably has grandchildren too. We do not want this or need this. We need to sit up and listen to what is happening. We are being flooded with them. There are gangs in Clonmel terrorising the people. Not a day goes by in my office without a parent or grandparent coming in to talk about what is going on or what happened to their Jimmy, Mary or Tommy. They press things on families when they are deceased at their own hands because of the pressure, and then they pass it on to the parents and grandparents.
Unfortunately, many of these gangs have protected status, which was bestowed on them in this House a couple of years ago. It is a farce, nothing short of a farce. They are an ethnic group and they can do what they like to whom they like when they like and where they like above the law. It is a disgrace and a farce.