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Archbishop of Dublin says social drug users are 'fuelling' the City’s drug problem

Archbishop Dermot Farrell has said that ‘affluent’ weekend drug users have blood on their hands
Archbishop Dermot Farrell: Picture by Fergal Phillips

Archbishop Dermot Farrell: Picture by Fergal Phillips

Clodagh Meaney

Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell has said that social drug users are “fuelling” Dublin’s drug problem, and they cannot wash their hands of the epidemic.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he said that drug use has become normalised.

“We had a heroin epidemic many years ago in the city. It’s more complex now - not only have you crack cocaine, but you have all these synthetic drugs which people are taking at weekends ‘socially or recreationally’.”

“That’s the normalisation… starting to take drugs has become as normal as going out for a pint. Once that happens, it becomes extensive, endemic and insidious."

“People who take them at weekends who are affluent, [think] ‘I can wash my hands of this, it’s nothing to do with me’, but they’re contributing to the problem.

The Westmeath man who was appointed to the role of Archbishop of Dublin in December 2020 said that upon visiting parishes across the capital he was met with many concerns about drug use.

“This has become a major issue of concern for parents and communities. It’s quite a major issue in the city - I believe it’s quite extensive, and it’s insidious.”

“The causes are deep, and they're complex. You have conditions of poverty and social disadvantage on the one hand, and you've another on the other side - affluence. Both of these are playing into the whole epidemic that we have at the moment.”

"They’re fuelling the situation, and making it lucrative for the people who bring in these drugs. People like that can’t wash their hands [of it], or consider that they haven’t got blood on their hands.”

Archbishop Farrell has said it’s not just down to the Gardaí and the courts to deal with drug abuse.

“From my understanding of listening to people on the ground, there are young children involved and have become entrapped in this.

“In terms of trying to deal with it, one needs to look at things like education, supporting communities, and supporting centres that are trying to deal with it.”

“It’s not just a matter of cutting off supply - we have to look at the demand,” he said, agreeing that every town in the country is affected by drug use.

“I’m very conscious and mindful of the fact that it's the 25th anniversary of the first National Drugs Strategy and the establishment of a National Drugs Taskforce,” he said.

“That set about tackling the supply and the demand issues, and did it in a way that was using local knowledge. It had credibility and local people, it was a very comprehensive approach where everyone was playing their part.”

It comes as the Tallaght Drug & Alcohol Taskforce reported earlier this month that the number of people seeking help for drug addiction in the area has doubled in the past 10 years.

They also said that while funding has decreased by 5% of the last 10 years also, drug related crime in the area has hit an all time high, rising 75% since 2018.

So far this year, more than 51 million worth of drugs have been seized by Gardaí during various raids and discoveries in the last year.

Fingal TD Alan Farrell said of the figures: “Large parts of the city are awash with drugs; it has become a pervasive force in our society.” A causal acceptance of many substances has led to more commonplace drug use, one that is often more subtle than in bygone decades.”

Last year it was reported that Ireland was three times above the European average when it came to drug related deaths.

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