DRUGS have been described as “a catalyst for many other crimes,” by Deputy Cathal Crowe who has called for dealers who parade their wealth around villages and towns in Clare to be tackled by the Gardaí.
“They are in every town and village and a real scourge,” he told last Monday’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC). “We all know the guy who doesn’t go to work in the morning, but has a lifestyle that none of us could hope to aspire to. There are people going in and out of his house at all hours and packages are being dropped through car windows. These are the people that we want to see taken down. The trouble they are causing is untold.”
Deputy Crowe added that “a mini CAB” in the county had been effective in tackling those living on the proceeds of crime. He also called for a liaison officer to be tasked with working with the council to address the issue of dealing from local authority properties. “I would like to see a situation where if these people are convicted, they would have to give up the keys to their local authority house,” he said. “There are far more deserving applicants on the housing list”.
The Fianna Fáil TD’s comments followed a briefing from Clare’s Garda Chief Superintendent on the drugs offences figures for the first half of 2020.
Outlining the number of offences in the first half of this year, Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran said that the increase on the same period last year had been “noticeable”. While there were 67 drugs offences (sale and supply) logged for the first half of 2019, there were 85 for the first half of 2020, an increase of 30%.
There was an increase also in the detection of drugs for personal use with 175 offences for the first six months of last year and 238 for the first half of 2020. The 36% increase was described by the Chief Superintendent as “disappointing”.
“We do have additional Gardaí rotating into the Drugs Unit,” he said. “The figures are up, but we can take comfort from the fact that if someone is involved with drugs, there is a greater chance that they will be caught.”
Councillor Pat Daly described the drugs problem as “rampant”. “We all know those who are pushing drugs in Ennis,” he said, “and the Gardaí do to. I would ask the Chief is he sees any light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Honestly, no,” the Chief Superintendent replied. “Drugs is a huge issue. It affects every crossroads and every level of society. The reality is that this is a huge, huge issue. When it comes to education, we have had some very good talks for schools and the public. That’s one of the best things that we can do. Enforcement is very much the end of the game. Drugs are here for the long term. Our job is to make life very uncomfortable for those who are making a comfortable living from drugs.”
Responding to Deputy Crowe’s comments, the Chief Superintendent noted that a number of Gardaí in the division have been trained by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). “Officers in this division are qualified in economic crime,” he noted. “Nationally, the force is looking at expanding the capacity for each division to operate and training and upskilling is being provided.