Ó Murchú: Drug Crime in Dundalk Raised in Dáil

Dundalk’s drug crime and the government response to it has been raised again in Leinster House by local TD Ruairí Ó Murchú who highlighted recent arson attacks in Clontygora Court and Bay Estate.

The Sinn Féin deputy raised the issue during a late-night topical issues debate last week and outlined to Minister of State, Charlie McConalogue, how a family escaped death during an arson attack at a house in Clontygora Court earlier this month.

He said: ‘That is the seriousness with which criminal gangs are operating in Dundalk’.

Mr Ó Murchú praised the ‘incredibly vigilant’ Dundalk Gardai.

He said: ‘Since a drugs unit has been in operation, there have been multiple finds of cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin.

‘When talking to community activists I have consistently been told about dealers being really sound to some of their customers and telling them: ‘I know things are not great now and I do not necessarily have a great supply of heroin, but do not worry because I have plenty of crack cocaine and I will sort you out with that’.

‘That is the reality, especially in working class areas. We have drug dealers who have been operating for many years but there has been a failure by the State to deal with them.

‘I welcome the operations that have been carried out recently, and in all my dealings with the gardaí I am happy that they are utterly focused. However, one will never have a meeting with gardaí in which they will not talk about the need for more resources.

‘With regard to the attack I mentioned and a previous attack that occurred in Bay Estate in which a garda’s home was attacked, I must commend the neighbours who were vigilant and called the fire service, whose actions were spectacular.

‘My difficulty with the drugs problem is about how one should deal with at Cabinet level. Gardaí will state that they are constantly arresting people who need services and cannot get them. Services such as the Family Addiction Support Network (FASN) are vital services that are not funded in any proper way. This issue crosses the areas of housing, health, education and justice. We cannot allow these dangerous criminals to operate. I want the Government to put somebody in charge. I welcome what is going to be done with the Citizens’ Assembly, but we already know a lot of has to be done.

‘We also need to ensure we are serious about harm reduction. The superintendent in Dundalk said at a recent joint policing committee meeting that drugs are the most serious issue he has to deal with in his region and that he requires greater resources to give the drugs unit what it requires.

‘We have had a chief superintendent who said we will lose an entire generation to cocaine. We need to ensure that this issue is dealt with at Cabinet level, somebody takes control and we can deliver a solution and look after our communities that are suffering from all this criminality’.

Minister McConalogue condemned the arson attacks. He said: ‘We share the deputy’s concern about the serious issue of drugs crime as well as drug related intimidation in communities.

‘Government policy is guided by the national drugs strategy, which represents a whole-of-Government response to the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse.

‘With respect to Garda resources working with communities in Dundalk in particular, 184 gardaí were assigned to Dundalk as of the end of May 2020. This is an increase from 147 gardaí, or 25%, since the end of 2015.

‘We hear Deputy Ó Murchú’s contribution and are very much aware of the serious issues at play. I assure him that, working with and supporting the Garda Síochána, and working within government, we will do all we can to try to ensure that this issue is addressed in every way possible’.

The drugs issue in Dundalk and the need for a whole of government response to it was also raised by the Louth TD with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee during her recent visit to the town.

Minister McEntee said she would speak to the relevant ministers and Mr Ó Murchú said he would follow up with her.

Adams calls on Government to support Dundalk workers

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams speaking in the Dáil has expressed his grave concern at the impact of the closure of the Authentic Food Company on the almost 200 workers employed there. The workers have received “no notice pay, no P45, no reference, and no redundancy payment. They will receive no wages during the 30 day consultation period or the two week notice period. This means that families with mortgages and other financial bills will have no money for six weeks.”

Gerry Adams TD called on the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty to “take urgent action to ensure that workers from the Authentic Food Company have access to social welfare”.

Teachta Adams also urged the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphrey’s “to investigate whether the closure of this business was a tactical insolvency by the British based company, and what steps she is taking to ensure that either a new buyer is found for the plant or the workforce is reemployed as quickly as possible.”

On Wednesday Gerry Adams TD met with the Liquidator, spoke to Enterprise Ireland and met with representatives of the UNITE union.

Speaking in the Dáil Gerry Adams said:

“I first wrote to the company on 21 September having been contacted by workers and their representatives about rumours that Authentic Food was closing. The company did not respond to my initial correspondence or to representations from Sinn Féin Councillors Ruairí Ó Murchú and Anne Campbell.

Instead on 19 October the company went to the High Court. Staff at Authentic Foods then received notice that the company was allegedly insolvent and unable to pay wages,

The Managing Director of Authentic Foods, Nik Basran, claims that the management carried out a comprehensive review of the business to try and find a way to make it profitable over the long term but he said this was not possible.

The Minister has a responsibility to ask what type of review is it that excludes the workers’ representatives, that refuses to engage directly with UNITE. What kind of review is it that can be manipulated by employers so that these workers have no notice pay, no P45, no reference, and no redundancy payment. This is very calculated. It is sharp practice.

Will the Minister give the Dáil a commitment that she will investigate whether this is a tactical insolvency? We need to establish if the British based Authentic Food Company deliberately wound down the Dundalk plant.

The work force has been treated shamefully. They can’t access social welfare. I would urge the Minister for Social Protection to use her discretion to ensure that workers get their social welfare payments as soon as possible.

I would ask the Minister for Enterprise to do everything possible to have this workforce reemployed as quickly as possible. The government needs to make it very clear that it does not countenance companies refusing to talk to trade unions in situations involving a restructuring or a closure.

There is also an urgent need to prevent liquidations being used in a tactical manner to the advantage of the companies and the disadvantage of workers, their families and community.

Let me remind the Dáil that Sinn Féin has already introduced a Bill that would give trade unions “the right to be heard” in matters of industrial relations – the 2018 Trade Union Representation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2018

We have also had a bill passed at second stage that would address the issue of tactical insolvencies – the 2016 Protection of Employees (Collective Redundancies) Bill.

Despite the fact that it was passed unanimously by the Dáil at second stage the government decided to block it from going to third stage committee via a money message. I ask the government to ensure government support for this Bill.”

Ó Murchú Welcomes Dundalk Respite Services

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has welcomed commitments made by the HSE during a meeting of the Louth Disabilities Forum this morning that respite services will be operational in Dundalk by mid October.

Councillor Ó Murchú said; said;

“This Forum, which includes parents of people with disabilities, political representatives and HSE staff, has been meeting for over a year on the issue of respite.

“During this time my colleague Gerry Adams TD and I have been raising gaps in provision which exist across the county and particularly in the Dundalk area.

“I am satisfied that commitments made during this morning’s meeting in Ardee have confirmed that respite will finally be operational in the coming weeks.

“For far too long citizens with disabilities in north Louth have been ignored. Their parents are extremely frustrated and understandably so.

“I will be working closely with the HSE disabilities manager for CHO 8 to ensure that his commitments come to fruition.

Winning the Campaign for Irish Unity – Gerry Adams TD

This weekend Ógra Sinn Féin held a weekend of conversation and discussion in the Muirhevnamor Community Centre in Dundalk. Among the speakers were Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, Louise O’Reilly TD, Megan Fearon MLA and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.

Local Louth TD Gerry Adams spoke at the event on Saturday. The former Sinn Féin leader spoke on the role of women and the campaign to achieve Irish unity.

Gerry Adams said:
“Women have played an essential role in the struggle for Irish freedom. At the turn of the 20th century Republican women were indispensably involved in many of the emerging organisations which were giving voice to the cultural, sporting and language renewal and rebirth that was taking place. Today that involvement continues and Sinn Féin is now led by two formidable women activists; Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill. And at this time the Sinn Féin candidate for the Presidency of Ireland is another formidable women Liadh Ní Riada”.

On the issue of a unity referendum and winning that referendum Gerry Adams said:

“We won’t have any kind of a republic until we have a united Ireland. We won’t have a united Ireland until we end the union with Britain. We now have a way of achieving this. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement – a majority vote in a unity referendum obliges the British government to leave.

Despite the negativity of the Irish and British governments there is growing support for a referendum on unity and for a united Ireland. But there is much work to be done. Republicans have a responsibility to map out the kind of shared new Ireland, we are working to build.

To advance this objective we must foster a ‘Yes for Unity’ movement which is much wider and broader than Sinn Féin. We don’t own the unity debate and we know that throughout Irish history progress has been best served when likeminded individuals and groups come together to work for a common goal.  

That was evident in 1916. It was most evident in the recent successful referendums on marriage equality and women’s health. We need to reach out to others and persuade them to join the campaign for a referendum and for unity.

There is also a responsibility on the Irish government and all of those parties which proclaim their commitment to a united Ireland, to work together and bring forward plans to achieve this. That means the Irish Government must advocate for, and plan for, a unity referendum and Irish Unity.

Ending partition and the call for a unity referendum have been given an added impetus by the threat Brexit it poses to the Good Friday Agreement and to the two economies on this island. The British government’s intention to take the North out of the EU, despite the vote by a majority of people there to remain, is a hostile action.

Despite this I believe that working together we can win a referendum on Irish unity. It is no longer a matter of if but when. After almost 100 years of a failed partitionist system and centuries of British involvement in Irish affairs, it is time for the Irish people, all of us on the island of Ireland, to shape out our own future”.

Sinn Féin Councillors Meet New DkIT SU President

Cllr Ruairi, Maria Maguire and Cllr Anne Campbell

Dundalk South Councillors Ruairi O Murchu and Anne Campbell met with the newly-elected president of Dundalk IT’s students’ union, Maria Maguire, earlier this week.

In a joint statement, the Sinn Féin representatives said they were “very pleased to listen to and speak with Maria, a mature student, and vice president Aaron Geagan at the meeting at DkIT.”

The councillors said: “Very shortly after Maria’s election, we were in touch with her to set up a meeting to hear about some of the concerns the students at Dundalk IT have. We were very pleased with the positivity from Maria and Aaron and we spoke about a number of issues, not least the pressing issue of the lack of suitable accommodation for students and how this means that some of them are commuting from 7am to make it in time for lectures.”

Among the other matters discussed included the college’s application, made in 2017, for around €16 million in capital funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), as well as canteen facilities and parking for students on or near the campus.

The councillors said: “It was a good meeting for us to hear directly about students’ concerns and we will remain in touch with Maria and Aaron over the coming academic year to assist as much as we can.

“They have some great ideas for improving and enhancing student life at the college and we are supportive of their efforts to make DklT a great place for students from Dundalk and further afield.”