Sinn Féin Councillor and Joint Policing Committee member Conor D. McGuinness has said that a focus on securing convictions for minor infractions is drawing scarce resources from tackling more serious drug dealing in West Waterford. He said that the failure by Government to adequately fund the National Drugs Strategy is contributing to a growing drugs problem in West Waterford.
“Drug abuse and dealing is not just a problem in our cities, there is scarcely a village or town in Ireland where drugs are not readily available. Recent CSO figures show a marked increase in drug offenses in the Dungarvan Garda Division with figures up by 142% on last year.
“Not enough is being done to tackle the root causes of drug-taking, addiction and drug dealing, and I am concerned that scarce resources are being used to secure convictions for very minor infractions, while dealers and drug pushers go unpunished.
“Anecdotally we know that heroin, cocaine and ketamine are being dealt locally and Gardaí report that crack cocaine is now being dealt in Waterford.
“At the same time we see youngsters being prosecuted in the courts for possession of very small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This does not strike me as an efficient or effective use of scarce resources when we have large scale criminal networks pushing extremely damaging and addictive drugs locally.
“Funding to regional drugs and alcohol forums suffered savage cuts during the recession, and this funding has never been restored. The Government published an ambitious National Drugs Strategy in 2017 but have failed to provide the resources necessary to deliver on it.
“I am calling on the government to increase funding to the regional drug and alcohol forums to ensure local communities have the tools to fight the drugs problem in West Waterford.”
The Joint Policing Committee will hold a public meeting in the Park Hotel, Dungarvan on Monday 25th November at 7pm. Senior Garda management will be in attendance and all are welcome to attend.