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.

Government must plan for Irish Unity – Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Ruairí Ó Murchú has said that the acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, needs a reality check on the issue of Irish Unity.

Teachta Ó Murchú said;

“The first parliamentary question which I submitted to the 33rd Dáil was on the subject of Irish Unity. 

“In his reply to me the Tánaiste Simon Coveney says that he is aware of the raft of recent polls, all of which indicate overwhelming and growing support for Irish Unity.

“If this is the case, Minister Coveney has a responsibility to act on this information and begin the process of planning for reunification. 

“However the Minister, in his response, states that he does not believe that the majority of people in the North of Ireland are in favour of constitutional change.

“I challenge his opinion, and the most up to date polling results support my claim. 

“Simon Coveney goes on to say that he thinks a unity referendum  “would only increase uncertainty and division at an already difficult and sensitive time.”

“What evidence does he have that this would be the case?

“What the Minister is really looking for is an excuse to do nothing, to allow the status quo to persist.

“This is not good enough.

“The Minister also states that for the last year the Irish Government has been focussed on securing the ratification and implementation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

“While I commend the outgoing government on the Brexit negotiations, the truth is that Boris Johnson has already indicated that he intends to ‘get around’ some of the provisions contained within the Withdrawal Agreement.

“The caretaker Minister must know that there is only one permanent solution to Brexit and that is Irish Unity.

“It is imperative that the incoming government, which will hopefully be led by Sinn Féin, is proactive on this issue and that a Green Paper is produced as quickly as possible.

“At this time the only people not talking about Irish Unity is the Irish Government.  This cannot continue, it is negligent and foolhardy of the government not to plan for the future and for Irish Unity.”

 

Recent Poll Details:

46.8% to remain in UK / 45.4% for a United Ireland / 7.8% Don’t know – The Detail/Lucid Talk, 2020

80% of people in the south support Irish unity – The Sunday Times / Panelbase, 2020

77% of people in the south support Irish unity – RTÉ/TG4/RED-C exit poll, 2019

57% of people in the south want a referendum on Irish unity in the next five years – IPSOS-MRBI exit poll, 2020

75% of young people want a referendum on Irish unity in the next five years! – IPSOS-MRBI exit poll, 2020

51% of people in the north support Irish unity – Ashcroft poll, 2019

Louth County Council to hold Voter Registration Clinics – Ó Murchú

Sinn Féin general election candidate Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú has encouraged people to check if they are registered to vote in the upcoming election on 8th February.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“I welcome the fact that Louth County Council will host registration clinics at County Hall, Dundalk and Fair Street, Drogheda this coming Saturday 18th January from 10.00am – 4.00pm.

“People can attend and check to see if they are on the voter register.  If they are not they can complete the necessary paperwork there and then.

“Anyone who wishes to get on the register must bring a standard photo ID and proof of address to the clinic on the day.

“Alternatively people can visit www.checktheregister.ie to check if they are included.

“If they are not listed on this website, people should contact Louth County Council on 1890 202303 or register@louthcoco.ie to check if they are on the supplementary register.

“If this is not the case people can complete form RFA2 which is available on www.louthcoco.ie website and return it to Louth County Council by 5pm on Wednesday 22nd January.” 

Ó Murchú puts forward motion on domestic violence paid leave

Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has introduced a motion at Louth County Council’s December meeting calling for up to 10 days paid leave for people suffering domestic abuse.

Speaking following the meeting, Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“Sinn Féin recently introduced legislation to provide for a statutory entitlement to domestic violence paid leave.

“This time off is necessary so that people can access legal, medical and court services

“It also provides time to source alternative accommodation – which is increasingly difficult in the current housing crisis.

“A recent study carried out by Tusla and homeless charity Good Shepherd Cork found that women who left their homes because of violence were often unable to find alternative accommodation, and were forced to return to violent abusers.

“Domestic violence continues to be under-reported due to stigma, shame and fear.

“One in five women will experience violence in their own home, and forty-one per cent of Irish women know someone in their circle of family or friends who have experienced intimate partner violence.

“Domestic violence also follows victims into the workplace. Co-workers may be aware that a colleague is being abused, but without a workplace policy, are unsure how best to support them.

“Managers need guidance on how to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and how to respond to a staff member’s disclosure.

“Domestic Abuse is a problem across our community and the solutions will involve the whole of our society.

“This legislation is one significant move in the right direction and we need to ensure it becomes law as soon as possible.”

Ó Murchú seeks update on Halliday Mills, Quay Street

Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has sought an update from Louth County Council officials regarding the development of the Halliday Mills, formerly Ard Dealgan, complex on Quay Street.

The Dundalk councillor made queries on the project during the recent meeting of Dundalk Municipal District.

Cllr Ó Murchú said,

“Louth County Council officials have informed me that the redevelopment of the site is a complicated process.

“There have been many false dawns regarding the delivery of the 60 plus social housing units which it could yield.

“I am informed that currently a planning application from the proposed developer is going through a validation process and that Louth County Council are in support of the proposal, in principle.

“Although there may still be a long wait before families are actually living in Halliday Mills it is a crucial piece of infrastructure for Dundalk.

“The realisation of these homes will ensure that Louth County Council continues to achieve the targets set by Government in as part of Rebuilding Ireland. 

“More importantly it will mean that over 60 families will have a home of their own in which they are not subject to the whim of a landlord solely concerned with profit making.

“In addition the completion of this project will ensure that there is no scope for the serious anti-social behaviour which was a feature of this site for many years.” 

Councillor Ó Murchú concluded by saying that Louth County Council would update him over the coming weeks.

 

“I asked officials at the Dundalk Municipal District meeting for an update regarding the timeline for delivery of these homes.

 

“Officials have said that they will revert to me in due course.

 

“I will continue to press Louth County Council to ensure no time is lost in the delivery of Halliday Mills.”