Louth Garda Anti Drugs operation welcomed

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the recent action by An Garda Síochána against “drug related intimidation behaviours.”

Gerry Adams said; “Two weeks ago I met a family in mid Louth that was living under constant threat of violence following their refusal to hand money over to drugs gangs.

“Following this meeting I raised the issue of drug related intimidation with the Justice Minister and I demanded that Gardaí in Louth be provided with the resources to protect this family and address the drugs epidemic in the county.

“I wish to commend the work of An Garda Síochána in Louth. “I again call on the Justice Minister to allocate the appropriate resources to deal with this.

“I have also asked him to introduce or support legislation to ensure proof of identity will be required in the purchase of mobile phones as this is the method of communication used in this intimidation.

Cllr Ó Murchú

Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú added: “I have been liaising with the Gardaí in Louth on the issue of intimidation of families by drugs criminals for some time now. “These gangs are targeting the family members of people they deem to owe drug debts.

“I have dealt with numerous families across Mid Louth and Dundalk who have endured intimidation and attack.

“In some cases families have feared for their lives due to a consistent campaign of intimidation by gang members.

“An Garda Síochána have stated that today’s operation occurred as part of an ongoing investigation into drug related intimidation in the Drogheda and mid-Louth area.

“I welcome this and I hope that those involved in drugs crime face the full rigours of the justice system.

“I also want to condemn the actions of criminals who set fire to cars belonging to off duty gardaí in Knockbridge yesterday. This type of intimidation of members of An Garda Síochána is not acceptable.”

Louth Family threatened by Drug Gang

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.”

Sinn Féin Jobpath motion passes Dáil

Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed Thursday’s Dáil vote which saw the party’s motion to end the Jobpath scheme pass.

Gerry Adams, who spoke in the Dáil during the debate, said: “Jobpath was introduced in 2015 by the then Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton. Sinn Féin believed then and we have been proven right, that this scheme is more about massaging the unemployment statistics than delivering for those seeking employment. It is also about privatising public services. And it should end.

Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted serious concerns about the processes used within the Jobpath scheme. We have repeatedly expressed our concerns about the delivery of JobPath by two private companies, Turas Nua and Seetec. Figures released late last year revealed that of almost 200,000 people referred to JobPath, only 9% had secured employment for at least one year. That is an appalling record of failure at a significant cost to the taxpayer. The only beneficiaries of JobPath have been the two private companies. Turas Nua has received €76 million and Seetec €73 million of the people’s money. The experience has been deeply unsatisfactory for the thousands who have been forced through this scheme. I have heard first-hand accounts from citizens in my own constituency of the hurt and stress they have faced as a result of this bad scheme.

In one instance, a mother with young children was required to organise and pay for childcare to attend JobPath offices just to do an Internet job search. Another woman had her jobseeker’s payment cut by €25 for not signing a personal progression plan, despite having attended all the sessions in the course.

That makes €76 million for Turas Nua and €25 taken from a young woman. These cases are not unique to Louth.

Reseach by Dr. Ray Griffin and Dr. Tom Boland from the Waterford Un/Employment Research Collaborative, concluded that the impact of JobPath on individual lives is decidedly negative. Not one of the 121 people interviewed by the Waterford researchers reported a positive experience. On the contrary, they describe a scheme that is patronising, threatening, bullying and manipulative.

JobPath should be ended and funding should now be provided to those organisations like community employment, the Local Employment Service Network and adult guidance services which have a much better record of assisting citizens in search of employment”.

Adams calls for implementation of UN Con. on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams joined with party colleagues on Tuesday evening in the Dáil in demanding that the government do more to deliver on the rights contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He commended Louth Groups and individuals who advocate their services for citizens with disabilities.

He said: “They provide much needed supports for citizens in this constituency with disabilities and have fought a battle a day with successive governments over the lack of funding, planning and resources. It took 11 years for the government to ratify the UN Convention. This is totally contrary to the Convention and is unacceptable.”

In March this year, 11 years after the state signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Government finally ratified the Convention.

On Tuesday, at a briefing with a range of disability groups the difficulties confronting citizens with disabilities, including the lack of planning, resources and funding, were discussed.

Gerry Adams TD said:

“The eventual ratification by the government of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was an important step forward. However, it is meaningless if the Convention is not implemented in full and if the legislation needed to achieve this is not enacted by the Oireachtas.

That means that the Government must ratify the Optional Protocol, as they had previously promised. In addition, the Assisted-Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 remains at a standstill with the essential establishment of a Decision Support Service still awaited. We also need progress on the enactment of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016.

Today in a briefing organised by Teachta O Caoláin, Shelley Gaynor and James Cawley from Independent Living Movement Ireland; Sarah Lennon, Inclusion Ireland; Kathy Moore, Rehab Ireland; Allen Dunne, Disability Federation of Ireland and Joan Carthy, Irish Wheelchair Association; told us that without adequate services citizens living with disabilities are like prisoners.

In Louth I work with many groups and individuals who advocate for services for people with disabilities; groups like the Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled; Louth Respite Group; WALK Peer, and others. I commend them all”.

Better no border at all – Adams

Speaking in tonight’s Dáil debate on the draft Withdrawal Agreement relating to Brexit the Louth TD Gerry Adams expressed his concern at the failure of the draft Agreement to protect the rights of Irish/EU citizens living in the North and of the dangers Brexit poses to the Good Friday Agreement.

The Louth TD reminded the Taoiseach that last December he said that citizens in the North “will never again be left behind by an Irish Government”. Last December’s Joint Report by the ERU and British government stated that there would be “no diminution of rights” and that “Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland”

However, this has now been deleted. That is a significant backward step. While the draft Agreement does contain a clause on rights it is not legally binding. The government should be very aware that Irish citizens in the North are very conscious of that. Recently one thousand leaders of civic nationalism reminded the Taoiseach of his commitments”.

Teachta Adams raised the fact that Irish and EU citizens in the North will not be able to elect an MEP. He asked the Taoiseach if in light of the additional two seats being allocated to the state for the European Parliament, if the government has “considered allocating them to the North?”

The Louth TD pointed out that the draft Withdrawal Agreement means that the European Charter of Fundamental Rights will no longer apply in the north, which means that certain rights will be undermined. These include “a range of social and economic rights, including workers’ rights, which people currently enjoy in the EU which will now be left to the British government’s discretion”.

The Louth TD also raised the threat posed by Brexit to the Good Friday Agreement, and in particular the failure of the British government to exercise its power in the North with rigorous impartiality. Gerry Adams said: “The British refusal to defend the rights of Irish language speakers; to protect equality and human rights for gay and lesbian citizens; to implement agreements on legacy; or to honour outstanding Agreement commitments, on establishing a Bill of Rights, and create a Civic Forum, are all evidence of the absence of ‘rigorous impartiality’.

Moreover, following Brexit the British Conservatives remain wedded to ending the role of the European Court of Justice and getting rid of the Human Rights Act which protects the equality and human rights principles of the Agreement. Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement.”

Concluding Gerry Adams proposed that in the context of Brexit Irish unity takes on a greater significance and imperative.

He said: “This is a logical, common sense outcome to the political, social and economic fractures imposed by partition but it also makes sense in the current Brexit provoked crisis. Apart from any other consideration reunification will allow for the North to again become part of the EU. Hard border? Soft border? Better to have no border at all. That’s what the government and the Oireachtas should be working for.”