Sinn Féin general election candidate for Louth Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú has commended the National Drugs and Organised Crime Unit on this evening’s arrest of two men and seizure of cannabis worth over €3 million.
“I spoke to Superintendent Gerry Curley this morning (Wednesday) in relation to the recent petrol bomb attacks on a house in Clontygora Court.
“Thankfully the attackers were disturbed in the act and one individual was arrested.
“The fact that those responsible would have the audacity to mount such an attack at the Garda Station shows how brazen and emboldened these criminals are.
“This attack further demonstrates the need for a fully resourced Garda service in Louth. The Garda Commissioner must rethink any reorganisation plans which would reduce or dilute resources from Dundalk and Co Louth.”
Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams today questioned the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan in the Dáil, on the issue of Drug Related Intimidation against families in County Louth.
The Louth TD specifically raised the case of one family whose home was fire-bombed over St. Patrick’s weekend. Teachta Adams expressed his disappointment at the Minister’s refusal to answer the questions he asked, specifically around the provision of additional resources for the Louth Division of An Garda Síochána.
The Minister also failed to inform the Dáil when the evaluation of the Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme by An Garda Síochána will finally be published.
Gerry Adams said: “There is a growing problem of extortion with violence and threats by drug gangs in County Louth. These gangs are demanding that the families of those who they claim owe them money must now pay the alleged debt. I am also told by party colleagues that this is a serious problem in Dublin and elsewhere. Last week, accompanied by Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú and Cllr Pearse McGeough, I visited one family in Louth who are quite simply living in terror.
“Over the space of 6 months this family paid a drug gang a total of three thousand seven hundred euro for debts allegedly owed by their son. The drug gang has targeted this family in a sustained campaign of intimidation and threats and attempted extortion. The drug gang are now demanding another eight thousand euro.
“However, this family is demonstrating remarkable courage in the face of threats, and is standing firm and rejecting the drug gang’s demand. When I visited the home, the family were clearly very anxious. Their fears are well founded. Over the St Patrick’s weekend their home was petrol bombed while they slept in their beds. Luckily the impact of the bomb breaking a window woke the family and they extinguished the fire before anyone was hurt.
“This family are working closely with the Gardaí whom they have praised highly to me. Other families have also been targeted. Other homes have been attacked. Cars have been destroyed. Families have fled their homes.
“Last Friday I spoke to the Chief Superintendent of the Louth division. I want to commend the Gardaí for their actions and efforts to date. During my last meeting in Dundalk Garda Station in January the officers informed me that the Louth Drugs and Crime Unit is now up and running with 3 extra staff in Dundalk and 5 in Drogheda. This is a good start but these numbers are still far too low to deal with the scale of the problem There are other cases which have come through my office and no doubt many more which I am unaware of.
“It is my belief that most of this intimidation can be traced to two drug gangs in Drogheda where local families have been subject to similar threats of intimidation over drug debts allegedly owed by family members. I want to commend the neighbours and friends of the family I visited. This local community is 100 per cent behind them. Drug gangs will not intimidate the people of Louth. But it should not be left to the community or An Garda Síochána.
“I am disappointed that the Minister did not deal with the questions I raised, including the allocation of additional resources for the Louth division of An Garda Síochána to support the work of its drugs unit. I also asked the Minister if he will consider introducing or supporting legislation to ensure that proof of identity is required for the purchase of mobile phones. Mobile phones are frequently used in the illegal drugs trade and many of the threats issued to the family being victimised in this case were by mobile phone.
“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.”
Concluding Gerry Adams TD said: “I have submitted Parliamentary Questions regarding the ongoing evaluation of the Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme by An Garda Síochána, and the work of the Family Addiction Support Network. Last year the Minister told me that this evaluation would be completed by the end of 2018. We are now well into 2019 and it hasn’t been published.”
Louth Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has accused Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan of leaving Drogheda vulnerable to warring drug gangs due to a lack of local Gardai.
Teachta Munster has written to the Minister for Justice today following the latest incident where a man was shot in broad daylight in Drogheda yesterday.
Speaking this afternoon Teachta Munster said; “The ongoing feud between drug gangs in Drogheda escalated this week, when a man was shot in the neck in the middle of the day in a public car park at a retail park.
“This is the second shooting in recent months and we have also seen intimidation, physical attacks, kidnappings, threats and attacks on homes. “I raised this with Minister Flanagan before Christmas, in particular the under-resourcing of Gardai in the locality.
“Eventually 18 additional Gardai were allocated for the Christmas period. I said at the time that it was vital that these resources remain in the town after Christmas.
“However this allocation of Gardaí was stripped back in January and left us with only three additional Gardai – nowhere near sufficient enough to deal with this feud.
“I have written to the Minister and have demanded that extra Garda resources are made available to Drogheda to crack down on this feud. He needs to listen. This is too serious an issue for the government to dismiss.
“The people of Drogheda are living in fear.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called for a cross border approach to deal with the on-going problem of ‘boy racers’ in the North Louth / South Armagh area.
Cllr Watters said “everyone has the right to go about their daily business without fear and this nuisance is causing fear. I have received numerous complaints from people in the community about this behavior which appears to be pre-planned events by the boy racers.”
Cllr Watters has been liaising closely with his Sinn Féin colleague in the north, Liz Kimmons who this week welcomed a commitment from the PSNI to tackle the scourge on the north side of the border. However, Cllr Watters feels that needs to be built on. “It is great that the PSNI have taken a pro-active approach in this but the reality is that when these people are stopped their racing in that area, they are going to just rearrange to race in North Louth so we need to have a joined up approach in dealing with the issue rather than allow it to move from one jurisdiction to the other.”
Cllr Watters has requested a joint meeting with An Garda Siochaná and the PSNI, together with Cllr Liz Kimmons and it is hoped several issues relating to these boy racers will be addressed.
“When these boy racers congregate there are a number of things that happen; the noise alone is very disruptive to residents in the area and as these are regular events it has the effect of making people nervous or afraid to leave their homes; the cars are causing an obstruction on the road and other motorists are being forced to try and manoeuver their way through them. I have received a complaint from a female driver in particular who was driving alone and felt very uncomfortable and was quite shaken as she arrived on the scene on her route home. That is not good enough.”
“This is anti-social behavior and an infringement on people just going about their daily business. This behavior is a danger to pedestrians, householders and drivers alike. We need to all work together to tackle this scourge before it escalates even further and ends up in tragedy.”