Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú
There are areas of Dundalk that ‘are being run as fiefdoms, with kids being used by ‘capos’,’ according to Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú, who spoke in Leinster House last week on the National Youth Justice Strategy.
The Sinn Féin deputy warned that ‘unless adequate resources are provided’, all the plans ‘will not mean anything’, and pointed to the ongoing funding crisis at the Family Addiction Support Network (FASN).
Early intervention, he said, was ‘vital’.
Deputy Ó Murchú said: "I welcome the strategy's references to early intervention, diversion and family support. We need to look at this holistically.
"Family support is not just about dealing with situations when people are already in difficulty with the criminal justice system, are falling into criminality or are well ensconced in it.
"At that stage, young people may be committing serious crimes, may find themselves being used by criminal gangs and we need criminal justice action that deals with that, particularly when we are talking about serious crime.
"Long before we get to that acute stage, however, we need to use real early interventions.
"We need to intervene in the lives of kids who are growing up in areas that have huge levels of deprivation, that suffer because of the actions of criminal gangs and whose families may need more supports.
"We need to offer such supports at a very early stage so that these kids can benefit from the education system and move on into employment.
"Education and employment are things that many of us benefit from without thinking twice about it.
"Reference has been made to the community safety forums which would mean bringing more State agencies together to combat crime and protect our communities. We need this to happen.
"I welcome the Guerin report and the implementation board that has been put in place for Drogheda.
"However, I am very wary when I see that the family addiction support network in Dundalk that deals with Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan, which offers real solutions and which is often used by An Garda Síochána, is having real difficulties drawing down funding to stay afloat.
"We really need to look at this holistically. We are dealing with areas in our constituencies, particularly in urban settings like Dundalk, that are being run as fiefdoms, with kids being used by capos.
"We need solutions that deliver for those people and protect our communities".
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