Ruairí Ó Murchú says the next government needs to declare an emergency and has called for a multi-agency approach to stop young people falling into the clutches of brutal and merciless drug gangs.
The Sinn Féin general election candidate spoke in the aftermath of the savage murder of Drogheda teenager Keane-Mulready Woods earlier this week. While Ó Murchú has reiterated calls for more Garda resources in the county to deal with the ongoing feud in Drogheda amongst other issues, he believes more can be done preemptively to protect young people.
But the councillor admits that health and addiction services too are under resourced at the moment.
“We need a multi agency community response including additional community gardaí to stop our young people falling into the clutches of these unscrupulous and immoral gangs,” he said.
“I met with the Minister of State for Drugs Catherine Byrne yesterday along with Gerry Adams, other Louth representatives and representatives of addiction services groups based across the North East region. All of these groups are under resourced to deal with the phenomenal crisis which exists at the present time.
“The next government needs to get real on this issue. We need to declare an emergency and we need the drugs crisis to be dealt with at the cabinet table.”
Ó Murchú says departments of government including Justice, Health, Children and Community development should come together and pool resources in a bid to find a solution.
“We need a huge injection of resources into communities or I fear we may see further killings of this nature,” he said. “I have no doubt that the savagery of this murder is intended to instil fear in our communities.
“Currently the gardaí are under resourced to address the murderous drugs feud that is taking place primarily in Drogheda, but which seeps out into communities in Dundalk and across Louth.
“We need more gardaí in strengthened, specialised units to target known drug dealers and put them out of commission.”
Meanwhile Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach says after the General Election his party will reintroduce a bill which will increase the maximum sentence for carrying a knife with intent to harm from 5 years to 10 years.
While the bill had passed second stage in the Dáil last year, having not been opposed by the government, it has not been enacted yet and will fall now that this Dáil term has ended.
The bill was originally brought forward by Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Deputy Jim O’Callaghan and Knockbridge-based Breathnach was in full support of it. Speaking in the Dáil at the time, he commented, “I have spoken about the need for mandatory sentencing for those convicted of causing incapacity, or injuring or intimidating, with the use of a knife, who should face the full rigour of the law.”
In the wake of Keane Mulready-Woods’ death, Breathnach says these gangs now believe they are untouchable and a serious deterrent is required.
“People need to know they cannot simply walk around carrying a knife so there needs to be a serious deterrent,” he said.
“The CSO does not publish information on the use of knives in crimes. However, news reports and anecdotal evidence show us that knife crime is increasing, and we have seen this particularly in Louth.”
In the last two years, incidents in Louth include 93-year-old Donie Lynch being stabbed in Blackrock and in January 2018 Japanese national Yosuke Sasaki, was tragically stabbed to death in Dundalk.