Labour TD Ged Nash says he hopes the scoping exercise into the impact of drug-related crime in Drogheda announced by the Minister for Justice last week will lead to a more comprehensive initiative to tackle societal issues in south Louth.
Last Friday, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee ordered a probe into gangland violence in Drogheda, appointing Vivian Geiran, a former Director of the Probation Services, to head up the investigation and report back to the Department.
Minister McEntee had previously committed establishing a taskforce to deal with the drug related criminality that has plagued the town in recent years. Described as a ‘scoping exercise’, Vivian Geiran will also examine social causes that may have contributed to the rise of criminality in the Drogheda area, including Bettystown and Laytown.
Mr Geiran will examine such issues as substance abuse, drug debt, intimidation and the facilities that the town needs to help tackle these problems, including young people’s involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“Cllr. Pio Smith and I, in late 2018, proposed a multi-agency, holistic approach to dealing with the causes and impact of gang crime in Drogheda,” Deputy Nash said.
“Almost two years on, I’m pleased that Department of Justice officials have delivered on this initial scoping exercise – as they committed to me three months ago. It is imperative that this leads to a comprehensive and funded multi-agency initiative to support communities in our town.”
The Drogheda-based TD says that the government need to invest in the area. He has previously called on more state-led investment and jobs, saying new IDA sites must be identified in south Louth to deliver more quality jobs.
“Any plan must be owned by the community and be led by community too and I will be pressuring the government to complete the job and to invest in Drogheda to tackle the problems of which we are all aware.
“If they are serious about addressing the socio-economic issues in our community around access to opportunity, drug treatment, housing, education, decent housing and other factors then the plan that emerges from this process must be backed by resources,” he said.
Last month, Minister McEntee said she was 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.
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. At the time of Mr Varadkar’s committment earlier this year, Deputy 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.
Vivian Geiran is a former Director of the Irish Probation Service, holding the role from August 2012 to December 2019.