By Dan Walsh
Gorey-Kilmuckridge Cllr Joe Sullivan has spoken out about the war on drugs in North Wexford and has concerns about the addicts and the dealers and believes that only by treating addicts with respect and giving them back their sense of pride can the war be won!
Cllr Sullivan claims what is needed is a structured methadone clinic, presently they can get it at the clinic, off their GP, or at their pharmacist. “We need a structured system and a support structure for the addicts, like a drop-in centre, where addicts can call in and meet with support workers, people who understand what’s going on in their lives. We also should have a proper needle exchange set up.”
“Most of the addicts are relatively inoffensive, they are victims of the whole drug system. Far from the zero tolerance, casting adrift from society, the marginalisation, why not embrace them, give them a sense of value, because a lot of drug addicts have lost their sense of self-esteem, of self-importance.
“They don’t believe they have a future when, but they do. The biggest thing about all this is hope, at no stage should society look at anybody as a lost cause, anyone can be taken back from the brink, there is nobody beyond rescue, because anybody with the proper structures and supports within the system can recover.”
Cllr Sullivan says his adopted home, Gorey has an increasingly affluent population, perhaps unconsciously, feeding into the drugs market. “Gorey is an affluent town, you wouldn’t see it as being as a town with an awful lot of social problems,” said Cllr Sullivan, who added; “But drugs reach across the whole spectrum of society, of class, of income, because while we’d have the drug addicts, the occupants of skid row, we’d also have an upwardly mobile middle-class here who. probably unknown to themselves, are contributing to the drugs problem because of drugs like cocaine which are readily available here. Drugs like that would be used in the context of recreation, and the people who are using them don’t believe they have a drug problem or that they’re feeding into the pockets of the rich drug barons.
Cllr Sullivan continues; “There are drugs everywhere, the proximity to Dublin and the accessibility to its drug market is certainly a factor. The public transport system between Gorey and Dublin is facilitating the transport of drugs. Getting drugs around the country has strong networks.”
So, what can be done to solve the drugs problem in Gorey, while at the same time acknowledging that other Wexford urban centres and villages are not immune to the growing problems of drug abuse?
“There is a misconception out there that the guards can solve it, they can’t. They have a role, a huge role to play within it, but single handedly they cannot solve it,” he told WexfordLocal.com, because “in our criminal justice system proof has to be provided, and it can be quite difficult in the drugs area, because most of the big money men don’t actually handle the merchandise at all.”
The downgrading of Gorey Garda Station in 2013 has not helped the situation according to Cllr Sullivan. “Gardai in Gorey are completely understaffed, they’re stretched to the limit. Gorey would be one of the fastest growing towns in Ireland, so to have the Garda Station downgraded when the town was growing represents a false economy. “We’ve built two new schools in that time, we have all five major supermarkets here, that doesn’t strike me as reason to downgrade the station.
Cllr Sullivan is also critical of the judicial system which he believes is “unfairly imbalanced.” “We regularly read of the down-and-out addict getting six months for being caught for the third time with some drugs, and the actual dealer is sitting outside in his BMW waiting to make the next sale when that person gets out of jail! The dealers are purveyors of misery, that’s basically what their job description is. The sentencing could be tougher on the dealers.”
Engaging with those who have become addicted to drugs, who see no way out, is key to the success of any prospective task force,” said Cllr Sullivan, who concluded: “I can’t over-emphasise enough the engagement with the victims. If we don’t talk to the addict we are wasting our time. We must know how they got into drugs, know how we can get them off it by working with them, not talking over their heads, about them, talking to them. Because by and large if you talk to a drug addict, they will want to get off it. I have seen the happiness in those who do get off drugs, the smiles on their faces, and they’re delighted, they’re proud of their achievement, so engagement with them is paramount.”