Intimidation of families across Louth by Drugs Gangs at an “unprecedented level” – Ó Murchú

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.”

Adams raises intimidation of families by drug gangs with Gardaí

Gerry Adams TD & Ruairi Ó Murchú at a recent rally

Sinn Féin Deputy for Louth Gerry Adams and Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú recently met with senior Gardaí in Dundalk Garda Station. During this meeting which took place toward the end of January the Sinn Féin representatives raised the issue of persistent intimidation of families by drug dealing criminals.

Deputy Adams said; “The scourge of drugs in our communities cannot be underestimated.  Local Gardaí are doing their best with inadequate resources to bring drug pushers to justice and they are having good success both in terms of drug seizures and in the arrest of many individuals who are involved in drug dealing and the associated criminality that goes with it.

“But if we are to really deal with this problem the Government and the Minister for Justice must properly resource An Garda Síochána as the lead agency against drugs and drug dealers.

“The people who use drugs recreationally are as much a part of the problem as those who are in active addiction

“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 in a protection racket or face their home being attacked.

“There is a need for a well-resourced, holistic 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 have written to the Justice Minister to increase the current budget and resources available to An Garda Síochána for Louth.” Councillor Ó Murchú added,

“I welcome the fact that there is now an operational drugs unit in Louth with 3 additional staff for Dundalk and 5 for Drogheda. “I hope that people will work with local gardaí to help remove criminal drug dealers from our community.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough Welcomes Drug Seizure in Louth

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has welcomed the seizure of an estimated €1 million of cannabis herb at Collon and subsequent follow up searches of properties in Ardee and Slane.

Cllr McGeough who is also Chair of the Joint Policing Committee for mid-Louth said “this is a great start. There is more work to be done but this is very significant and has taken €1 million worth of drugs off our streets. I welcome the find and want to commend those involved in the operation which was a result of a Cross-border Joint Action Force. It’s only through co-operation north and south and together with communities that we can tackle crime effectively.”

Cllr McGeough also took the opportunity to encourage the public “to attend the upcoming meeting of the Joint Policing Committee which is open to all.  We are holding it at 8pm on Thursday 4th October at the Grove Hotel in Dunleer. This is our community and we all have a say in how it is policed going forward.”

The meeting in Dunleer covers the areas of Ardee, Dunleer and Clogherhead Garda districts.

There will be a similar meeting in Drogheda on Monday evening 1st October at 8pm in the D Hotel for the Drogheda South Louth area and on Tuesday 2nd October at 8pm at the Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford for the Dundalk North Louth area.

Cllr McGeough said “there will be presentations from An Garda Siochana and the Local Authority and an interesting one on cyber crime which is on the increase and affects all of us. The public will get a chance to ask questions or to raise issues so please, whatever part of Louth you are from, please try and attend the meeting in your area. This drugs seizure was a good start, but there’s still work to be done so let’s do it together as a community.”

Local Activist Warns of Drug Paraphernalia

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú and activist Eugene Garvey pictured at a previous dumping incident

Local Sinn Féin activist Eugene Garvey from St Nicholas’ Avenue area has advised residents in the area to resist the temptation to dispose of any drug paraphernalia they might come across.

Speaking today from the area, Eugene Garvey said “In this good weather we have a lot of people using the path down by the river for walking their dogs or just out enjoying the good weather. Unfortunately they aren’t the only people using the path and some drug paraphernalia was found there today at the green. There are needles present which can be very dangerous if you accidently prick yourself attempting to clean them up.”

Mr Garvey contacted Louth County Council and has been advised that they will ‘get it cleaned up as soon as possible’.

Drug paraphernalia found today

Garvey who lives in the area said “St Nicholas Avenue is a great place to live, the residents look after their area and any dumping of unwanted paraphernalia or rubbish will be reported and followed up on. I would ask residents that if anyone sees anyone dumping anything, to please contact Louth County Council immediately.”

Do not attempt to dispose of it yourself

Cllr Ó Murchú Welcomes CAB Role in Louth

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has warmly welcomed the clarification about the role of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) at Monday’s joint meeting of the Louth Policing Committees.

Speaking after a private meeting with representatives of CAB, Cllr. Ó Murchú said he was pleased with the accessibility of the bureau outlined at the meeting by Chief Superintendent Patrick Clavin.

Cllr Ó Murchú said “We have a serious problem with organised drug gangs across this county and in particular, Dundalk and Drogheda. The community suffers terribly from the drug dealing, intimidation, arson and the violence of these gangs.  Their extortionate means of drug debt recovery from the families of addicts, backed up with brutality and terror is a huge issue. CAB has operated over the years as a serious tool against organised crime and I welcome any measures that can be taken.

He said: “I was particularly pleased to note that the threshold of assets that can be seized by CAB has been lowered to €5,000 which means that so-called ‘small-time drug dealers’ can also be targeted.”

Councillor Ó Murchú was also concerned “about the figures presented which revealed that Louth has the third highest number of CAB targets in the state after the greater Dublin area and Limerick, which obviously has serious implications for Garda resources in the county.

“To hear Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan frankly admit that he told the Justice Minister as recently as Monday that the budget he has this year is ‘grossly insufficient’ to do what he has to do, is truly shocking and is something that I have already raised with the Sinn Féin team in Leinster House.

“I would hope that we could see the Criminal Assets Bureau operating locally in co-operation with the Gardaí. Successful Garda arrest operations can be difficult in a ‘subcontracted criminal enterprise’ where main players use vulnerable people as their ‘cut outs’ and keep themselves ‘clean’. Many drug dealers are living cash rich and many without intricate money laundering systems and so we would hope this weak point could be used by CAB to disrupt, impact and possibly shut down some of their operations.

“I am also encouraged by the fact the CAB was able to give several reassurances that not only will they take the information they receive seriously but that no-one will have to go to court to give evidence.”

CAB can be contacted on email at ino@cab.ie or at 01 6663266