A call has been made to all five official mayors in the county to join together in campaigning for an end to cuts to garda drug units in Donegal.
Letterkenny based anti-drugs activist, PJ Blake says cut backs to the garda resources to tackle the drugs issues are a “bloody disgrace” and he intends to lobby the Justice Minister Alan Shatter on the issue.
Mr Blake says in recent years there have been between 15 to 20 drug-related deaths in the county, but in recent years there have been significant cuts to garda resources in the drugs unit.
He said Letterkenny station alone had 10-12 officers in the drugs unit yet correspondence with the Justice Minister’s office stated in January that there were 12 officers in the drugs unit for the whole county. In February he said he received a letter stating it was down to nine officers.
He stated: “I believe Letterkenny used to have one of the highest detection rates in the country outside the urban areas of Dublin’s inner city so what is that telling us? I fully intend writing to Mr Shatter and the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, because I think this a bloody disgrace. I am now asking the five mayors in the county - the Mayor of Donegal and the four Town Council Mayors - to take a stand on the issue. I made an appeal before to all of them as up to 20 young people have died from drugs in this county. The state has failed those people too. There used to be between 10 the twelve garda in the Letterkenny Drugs Unit alone and now there is nine in the whole county. What does that tell us? What number does that leave us with in Letterkenny? I know that every other town has its problems as well but no one is doing anything about it.”
He highlighted the success this week of Gardai in the Cavan and Monaghan who seized a significant amount of drugs and arrest nine people in an operation and congratulated the team on their success. But again he hit out at what he sees as a lack of action by politicians on the matter during his 30 years campaigning against drugs.
The operation targeted drugs gangs operating in the Bailieborough and Cootehill areas. Ecstasy and other drugs were seized.
The operation was led by gardaí from the Cavan-Monaghan division and involved a number of officers from several specialised garda units, who worked undercover for months.