Chai Brady and Aron Hegarty
The spate of gang violence, brutal killings and spread of drugs and guns wracking Ireland has provoked condemnation from clergy across the country who are calling for more Garda funding and that illegal drug users “wake up” and stop enabling violence.
The burning of a man in Cork, dismemberment of a teenager in Drogheda, shootings in Dublin, Clare and Louth in 2020 alone were met with horror from local clergy.
Fr Michael Router, Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh archdiocese, which includes some of Co. Louth, told The Irish Catholic: “Recent events have led to a level of anxiety amongst people, this is particularly true when violent incidents happen in a confined area, but we’ve seen the violence replicated in other places like Cork in recent weeks. People are worried that the Gardaí don’t have the resources to counteract the threat of gangland criminals.
“These violent incidents need to be a wake-up call for all of us as a society to realise that actions have consequences. People who are taking drugs on a social basis have to realise that what they are doing is fuelling this situation of violence,” he said.
The resources that need to be deployed are the same as those used to tackle gangland violence in Limerick, Bishop Router said, adding that it must be a “nationwide project”.
Chancellor of Limerick diocese, Fr Donough O’Malley, said his county’s problems needed “sufficient means and the judicial system to back them up” to tackle “totally illicit behaviour”. Fr O’Malley added the “greatest weapon that they have in all these situations is CAB”.
In Drogheda, Fr Phillip Gaffney PP said the third drug-feud related killing in the area of Keane Mulready-Woods (17) “spread fear throughout the community that anybody could carry out such an act of brutality. This murder has really brought about an unparalleled level of revulsion throughout the country…”
“The drug wars are the result and the consequence of social drug taking all over Ireland really, you’re fuelling the whole thing and that’s why there’s so much money involved, making these drug barons rich. It’s only I suppose when something happens in your community and you’re directly affected by these things that you realise what the impact is,” he said. As far as Tipperary, Fr Michael Toomey based in Clonmel said that cocaine has become extremely easy for young people to obtain.
“A lot of people are now budgeting for their debs – as well as their clothes and drink – they’re also budgeting now for cocaine, and that doesn’t shock me, that’s just what I’m trying to tell people,” he said.
“Cocaine is a very common and easily accessible drug now for young people and I’m not trying to frighten, I’m just saying this is how it is because I’m dealing with young people. My biggest fear is unfortunately drug usage has increased, this violence is going to escalate it’s going to start hitting more towns.”
Cocaine can be easier for young people to obtain as they don’t need ID like they do for alcohol Fr Toomey explained, saying there needs to be a bigger Garda presence on the streets of Clonmel.
Fr Pat McKinley based in Tallaght, Co. Dublin, said support services for addicts are “overloaded” with long waiting lists, causing people’s health and circumstances to get worse. “The problem arises from the ‘normalisation’ of a drugs culture here in Ireland. Drug taking, like doing a line of coke, has become as normal as having a drink,” he said.
He stressed that it wasn’t just communities with deprived socio-economic backgrounds that are worse for illegal drug taking, as it has become “socially acceptable” across the country.