Louth’s most senior Garda officer has again thrown his weight behind the idea that the money seized by drug dealers in the county should be reinvested directly back into areas ravaged by the affects of drug crime.
Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan told elected members and public representatives on Monday that action was required to provide support to organisations who are struggling financially to help those people afflicted by drugs and criminality in the county.
Currently, any money seized by Gardai goes to the Department of Finance and there is currently no provision to ensure the money accumulated from the sale of supply of drugs in certain areas stays in that location to provide necessary supports to those affected.
During the July meeting of the Drogheda Joint Policing Committee, Independent councillor Paddy McQuillan, responding to an update from Chief Supt Mangan on the Gardai’s handling of the drug crime-fuelled gang warfare in the town, queried where the money that was seized as part of drug finds went, asking, “Can some money be redistributed into the community?”
The senior officer responded positively to the idea – saying it would be a “positive story” – and the matter has since been raised in Dail Eireann, with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee saying she was “very interested” in the idea of offering funding supports to local support networks and charities, by way of redirecting seized funds and ensuring they stay in the areas affected.
Speaking on Monday – during the Drogheda Joint Policing Committee public forum, Chief Supt Mangan said: “It would be a great benefit to the town of Drogheda if some of that money was reinvested into services. It would be of enormous benefit,” he said.
However, the Chief Supt warned that tangible progress needed to be made before the prospect of crime proceeds being reinvested into communities went from being a mere idea to a concrete source of support for services, like those focusing on addiction and counselling.
“It is a fantastic idea. But there needs to be action. I’d like to see it being actioned on.”
Independent councillor Paddy McQuillan, who first put forward the idea that money seized by Gardai could be reinvested into communities ravaged by the associated criminality, told the meeting that bringing his plan to fruition was “slow progress.”
“We need action. We need to get legislation changed. We need to get all parties behind this. It’s a slow process. There’s been an organised effort now,” he said. The councillor added that he was waiting for Deputy Fergus O’Dowd to arrange a meeting with Minister McEntee. “I will speak to her personally on the matter,” he said.
It is also understood that via Independent councillors around the country, the matter is being brought to the attention of councils, JPCs and local Gardai nationwide in a bid to maintain focus on the matter and ensure the motion moves forward at government level.