A LIMERICK housing estate has been described as a "non-stop drugs supermarket" by local TD Maurice Quinlivan.
Speaking in Dail Eireann this morning, the Sinn Fein member believes the issue of drug-dealing in Limerick has worsened with the Covid-19 pandemic.
And he singled out St Mary's Park as being an area of particular concern, and called for the Defence Forces to be deployed in the war on drugs.
Addressing junior drugs minister Frank Feighan, Mr Quinlivan said: "I mentioned this estate to you before minister and to the Minster for Justice I also raised it both with An Taoiseach and the Tánaiste – it needs urgent intervention from Government with additional resources for An Garda Síochana, the Criminal Assets Bureau, Court Services, Limerick Council and other agencies all who need to intervene as a matter of urgency."
"This is an older and very settled housing estate. With lots of wonderful working families who have lived there for generations. It has some of the finest people you will ever encounter. Many of them are my friends. They have worked all their lives when they could," he said.
Mr Quinlivan says it now feels like drugs and drugs gangs have taken over.
"And more worrying, [they are being] left away with it. Local people are in despair," he added.
He claimed these dealers ignore planning regulations on a regular basis by building unauthorised structures, including walls.
"A number of council officials have told me privately that they are afraid to enforce many regulations. Derelict houses which are due for demolition are being used to stored drugs – despite garda requests they are still not demolished. The Defence Forces were deployed last year in Limerick to assist the Criminal Assets Bureau. They should be called on again, if necessary, to deal with this ongoing problem," he urged.
"The local drugs gang regularly gives two fingers to everybody. The two fingers from these drugs gangs are not just to me, the local community, An Garda Síochána or Limerick Council. They are two fingers to the entire State," the TD told the Dail.
He also claimed crack cocain is being sold openly in Limerick, mixed with heroin.
"The drug is devastating. It has destroyed communities across the world. It is extremely addictive and is regarded as the most addictive form of cocaine. As I have said before in Dáil debates There really is a special place in hell for anyone who sells, distributes or benefit or profits from the sale of crack cocaine. Unfortunately, Drug dealing operates there on an almost 24/7 basis. Taxis often form queues whilst people from all over the region purchase their drugs. Many people simply walk into the estate. It’s like a non-stop drugs supermarket. The vast bulk of people getting the drugs there don’t live in the area," he claimed.
Mr Quinlivan begged Mr Feighan: "Please don't ignore the clear evidence I’m presenting here today like people unfortunately did in the Mid 2000s when Limerick ultimately needed massive government intervention – which ultimately led to the Limerick Regeneration programme. We do not want to return to those very dark days. The residents need assurance that they have not been abandoned. I am contacted almost daily by constituents who have concerns regarding drug use. They often feel that very little is being done to address their real concerns."
"We need a specific task force in the area that could be modelled on what has been achieved in areas of Dublin. Do not say you weren’t warned – as we are staring into the abyss warned you and your government about this issue in October – yet absolutely nothing has been done in fact it has worsened," he said.
Despite this, Mr Feighan did not afford a formal response to Mr Quinlivan's Dail statement.