Louth Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has raised the issue of intimidation of families across Louth by drugs gangs at Tuesday evenings’ Joint Policing Committee meeting in Dundalk.
Councillor Ó Murchú said; “Over the past 12 months myself, Deputy Gerry Adams and other Sinn Féin councillors have received an increased number of reports of intimidation by drug dealers and their gangs.
“Drug dealers are no longer attributing debts only to those who accrue the debt but also to their family members.
“I am aware of one family in Louth who over the space of 6 months paid criminals a total of €3,700 for debts their son allegedly owed. However the gang was not content and in November demanded another €6,500.
“The family refused and a few weeks later their house was attacked. “Just this week I learned that a local man paid off a drug debt of €40,000 due to intimidation of his daughter.
“In a number of other cases family homes have been attacked with pipe bombs and petrol bombs, vehicles burned out and multiple threats of violence issued.
“I commend the gardaí for their efforts in these cases and the increased level of importance which they are placing on this issue which is resulting in greater numbers of arrests for drug related crimes.
“I welcome the establishment of Dundalk Drugs and Crime Unit which is now up and running with 3 extra staff along with another 5 person unit in Drogheda.
“However there are no doubt many more cases which I am unaware of and which remain unreported and I encourage victims to report this type of crime.
“The people who use drugs recreationally and believe it is a harmless past time must also realise that they bear some responsibility for this crime.
“To feed their social habit a warren of criminal activity takes place. “And at the hard end of all this are families who are being extorted out of thousands of euro by ruthless individuals who intimidate whole communities.
“There is a need for a well-resourced, multi-agency approach bringing together all of the stake-holders in the state, community and voluntary sectors to tackle the scourge of drugs and its associated health and criminal issues.
“I, along with Deputy Gerry Adams, will continue to lobby for additional funding to be provided to Louth Gardaí to combat this very real and dangerous threat.”