Lack of community support adding to county’s drug problem

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DRUG dealers are inflicting “fierce damage” on impressionable young people across County Limerick, where the lack of youth workers and Community Gardaí is adding to the problem.

That was the stark assessment of Limerick Rural Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue during a Dáil debate on the National Youth Justice Strategy, which aims to address ongoing challenges, as well as new issues in youth justice.

“There is a massive problem at the moment with drugs in many towns and villages of County Limerick,” Deputy O’Donoghue stated.

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“We see people driving around in their big flash cars and they are even setting up businesses, but they are drawing young people into this and letting them believe it is a life they can grow up in.

“However, it is not a life they can grow up in because they are going to be constantly watching their backs. These people are doing fierce damage to youths who are trying to get on with education or a trade. It is very hard for us to look at this and see them get away with it.”

The Rural Independent TD believes more gardaí are needed in County Limerick towns to tackle the drugs problem. He also believes that integration in communities is key to the Youth Justice Strategy’s success.

“Garda Youth Diversion projects throughout the country are working well but it is difficult to get exact numbers on how many have been set up and are operational.

“Kilmallock, by way of an example, has seen great success recently with age groups from 12 upwards involved in the Garda Youth Projects. However, across Limerick, there is a massive shortage of youth workers. We also have too few gardaí on the ground.

“The discretion of a Garda in communities is huge when it comes to the first-time offender. Again, that needs to be looked at positively,” he concluded.