‘Significant increase’ in the use of crack cocaine

By Aideen O'Flaherty

LOCAL drugs and alcohol task forces have seen “a significant increase” in the use of crack cocaine in the county, which a local TD has described as a “deeply troubling” development.

Last month, The Echo reported that Clondalkin was becoming a magnet for crack cocaine and heroin users from other parts of the country, who were accessing the area by getting the train to the Clondalkin/Fonthill train station.


Local drugs and alcohol task forces have seen 'a significant increase' in the use of crack cocaine in the county

In a bid to tackle this issue, Irish Rail and gardai teamed up with local drugs projects Clondalkin Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Clondalkin Tus Nua, and CASP, to increase awareness of support services available to people using crack and heroin.

However, the crack cocaine epidemic is still ongoing in the area, with Jennifer Clancy, the coordinator of the Clondalkin Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, telling The Echo: “We have seen a substantial increase in people using crack cocaine in the area, and with that comes more complex needs.”

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive form of smokable cocaine, and it’s believed that the low cost of the highly addictive drug is leading to it becoming more prevalent in the county.

Fianna Fáil Dublin Mid-West TD, John Curran, said: “Crack cocaine is relatively cheap, easily sourced on streets, quickly cooked, highly addictive, and its shipments from abroad have flooded our vibrant city.

“The consequences of crack cocaine use and its illegal sale in our communities are deeply troubling.

“It’s quite obvious in recent months that there has been a shift in drug trends in Ireland – strewn among the discarded used needles are pipes and tinfoil.

“Its growing popularity has led Dublin’s crack market to swiftly expand.”

The Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force recently funded and supplied three new projects in JADD (Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency), CARP (Community Addiction Response Programme) in Killinarden and New Hope Residential in Kiltalown Cottage, in a bid to combat the issue with crack cocaine use in the area.

Crack cocaine use [in Tallaght] has been growing steadily

Grace Hill, the coordinator of the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, told The Echo: “Crack cocaine use [in Tallaght] has been growing steadily over the last year, and a lot of people are using heroin to come down off crack.”

When asked how the three projects targeted at crack cocaine use in the Tallaght area were received, Ms Hill said: “Engagement is a bit of a challenge, because of how chaotic crack cocaine use is, but they’re working around that.”

In addition to this, the families of crack cocaine users are also affected and need supports, according to Ms Hill.

“The impact on families is huge, and it brings families into another layer of poverty.”

Funding is a key issue which is affecting local drugs and alcohol task forces, with Ms Clancy from CDATF saying that the service “is operating at 39 per cent of the funding that we previously had in 2008”, when funding was cut as a result of the economic crash.

Deputy Curran has called for “the full restoration of 2008 level funding for local, community-based drugs services and local youth organisations”, which is echoed by Ms Hill from TDATF.

“If the level of funding we receive isn’t increased, it will be a serious downgrade,” said Ms Hill. “We don’t feel listened to at all. We don’t have any confidence in Minister [of State with responsibility for drugs strategy] Catherine Byrne.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told The Echo: “Over €27.85m has been allocated to Task Forces by the HSE and the Department of Health for community-based drugs initiatives this year.

“This included an additional €540,000 in one-off funding to the Task Forces to support implementation of the national drugs strategy.

“It is expected that the 24 Drug and Alcohol Task Forces including Tallaght and Clondalkin, will be notified of their 2019 funding allocations as soon as the HSE National Service Plan for 2019 has been submitted and approved by the Minister for Health.”

Deputy Curran is calling for a multi-agency approach to quell crack cocaine use, stating: “This is a scourge never before seen in Ireland.

“An altogether new, multifaceted approach is required, one that incorporates the work of the Prison Service, the HSE, the Department of Social Protection and An Garda Síochana.”

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