Louth Fianna Fáil Councillor and General Election candidate James Byrne has outlined a series of measures to increase the powers and resources of Gardaí tackling gangland and drugs crime.
“There is a sense of horror and dread in Drogheda and across County Louth following the horrific murder teenager Keane Mulready-Woods. The brutality of this crime has left many of us wondering how things have escalated to this, right here in our own home town. We simply cannot stand by and accept it,” he said.
“Not only has the life of a teenager been taken in such a horrific and public manner, communities across this town and county are left feeling unsafe.
“The reality is that the gang feud in Drogheda has been allowed to fester and grow at a time when local garda numbers were heavily depleted. Drugs gangs have embedded themselves in our town, putting all of us at risk, and the gardaí simply do not have the resources or support to combat the crisis.
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“Fine Gael have allowed this to happen by cutting local garda numbers, cutting numbers in specialised garda units and burying their heads in the sand about the impact of the drugs epidemic on all of us. If criminals are killing other criminals, Fine Gael just shrugs as if there is nothing that politicians can do. This casual attitude just isn’t good enough.
“Gang crime and the scourge of drugs will continue to thrive unless we see radical intervention from the Government. We need to strengthen the laws around jailing gang criminals, giving gardaí the same powers with gang criminals as they have with the Provisional IRA. This would allow the “belief” of a Chief Superintendent that someone was involved in gangland crime to be introduced into evidence.
“We also need to increase garda numbers nationally to 16,000 gardaí. Gardaí must be resourced to operate 24-hour around the clock surveillance of gang leaders. The Gardaí know who they are – they just need to resources to monitor them.
“I am calling for the establishment of a targeted community fund for Drogheda, in light of the high levels of gang violence. This will help to steer young people away from criminality before they become seriously involved.
“We also need a drug education and awareness programme, both locally and nationally, in an effort to reduce demand for drugs. The unavoidable fact is violence follows the drugs trade and there would be no drugs trade without the drug users.”