Minister for Justice Helen McEntee says she is committed to delivering on the the pre-election promise made that a new taskforce would be established to help Drogheda overcome its problems with drug related issues such as addiction and crime.
Speaking in Dundalk on Friday morning at the announcement that €700,000 has been made available to applicant LGBTQI+ groups nationally, regionally and locally, Minister McEntee told LouthNow.ie that the Department remained committed to the plan, but she offered no specific details on a taskforce for Drogheda or elsewhere.
In January, then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Fine Gael would commit to roll out another six or seven task forces similar to that launched in the north east inner city in Dublin three years ago.
When asked by LouthNow.ie about the taskforce for Drogheda, the Minister said; “This is something we are committed to but more in general we are committed to the implementation of the Commission of the Future of Policing which in itself is focused on ensuring that the Gardai have a statutory footing in working with the various different groups within our society be it in heath, education, social welfare and that they as an entity are not left carrying the can on all of the different issues within our community.
“I am fully committed to supporting the implementation of that plan to support the Gardai in moving towards a human rights based policing system. I think we’ve seen over the last number of months through Covid how important it is that they are working on the ground within communities.”
The North East Inner City taskforce was established in 2017 as a major initiative focused on the development of north-east inner city Dublin. It’s foundation came after a spate of gangland shootings in the region.
Late last year, it was revealed that €6.5 million in funding had allowed the programme help to make the area a safer, more attractive living and working environment for the community.
At the time of Mr Varadkar’s committment earlier this year, Labour’s Ged Nash called the move to establish a ‘Mulvey-type’ commission in Drogheda a “u-turn.”
“This u-turn from Fine Gael is welcome as we have been calling for this for over a year, and as recently as December in the Seanad, and despite multiple requests, the Minister for Justice failed to commit to it,” he said.
Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said; “This Taskforce will tackle the long-term economic and social regeneration of the areas in Drogheda that have been most affected by the recent drug fuelled criminality.
“When Kieran Mulvey set up the taskforce in North Inner City Dublin it identified areas in need of immediate investment and the government expedited funding to address the issues.
“This will not be down to the Government alone, the people of Drogheda must rise up and stand together to defeat this blight in our town.”