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Mixed reaction in Ballymun among locals after RTE report reveals scale of open drug dealing

'I just felt that it was probably the last thing that the community needed, to be pinpointed like that'
Neil Fetherstonhaugh

There has been a mixed reaction among locals to last night’s Prime Time special report that revealed the full, shocking scale of open drug dealing in Ballymun.

In the programme RTÉ Investigates monitored several locations where drugs are seen being openly sold on the streets.

After secretly filming there over five days last month, viewers saw how on the first day alone, undercover cameras filmed over 42 potential drug deals in just a four-hour afternoon period.

The programme also showed how in the 15 minutes it took young children to pass by one location as they made their way home from primary school, at least nine deals were recorded.

The footage also shows a young toddler standing beside a woman who is asking a dealer for heroin.

One local councillor, Noeleen Reilly said she was “a bit disappointed” when she heard the programme was going out.

“I just felt that it was probably the last thing that the community needed, to be pinpointed like that,” she said.

“Many of the issues that were highlighted exist all over Dublin, so it just sometimes feels that yet again Ballymun is the area that's picked on to highlight that.

“I’ve been highlighting these issues with the council and the gardai for years. Other public reps and members of the public have been raising the same issues with the different agencies and they should be addressed.

“It's just a bit frustrating that maybe something will only happen now because RTE shone a light on it.”

She added: “The community feels a bit abandoned to be honest. And there is a mix of feelings here today because the programme did highlight issues that we are facing here that do demand urgent attention.

“It’s just a pity because we're trying very hard to try and get investment into the area, to improve facilities for people, to get more housing, and I’m just not sure that programmes like this are going to help us.”

Cllr Keith Connolly admitted being “surprised” by the scale of the open drug dealing.

“I live in Finglas West and there is an element of drug dealing here as well. But the openness and the scale of it (in last night’s programme) was surprising.

"It shone a spotlight on a very big problem for the area. We know that open drug dealing is an issue in Ballymun and that's why in the past we have had the then Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe commission a report that was published this year.

“And in that report, it states that there needs to be more Garda resources, from 44 to 50 extra gardai.

“It also called for other supports such as extra social care workers and youth workers to essentially try and break the cycle and stop young people from getting into that whole industry.

The programme was aired as the latest Health Research Board figures show that cocaine, in powder form and the more potent crack cocaine in rock form are a growing problem across the country.

However, the Board describes the crack problem in Ballymun as “acute” by comparison to other areas in the capital.

It shows how 80 per cent of those seeking help who use crack live in Dublin. Ballymun is the community with the highest level of people with opiate addiction in the country, 10 times the national average, making it ripe ground for this destructive drug.

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