Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Kerry Cllr. Norma Moriarty has outlined a series of measures to increase the powers and resources of local Gardaí in the fight against drugs.

“Unfortunately, Kerry is not immune to the scourge of drugs and related crime. It has seeped into too many communities in the county in the past few years and far too many families and young people have been affected,” she said.

“The illegal drugs trade has been allowed to fester and grow at the same time as local Garda numbers were being depleted. Not enough is being done to support our local gardaí in preventing an escalation of this criminality, and we are failing to steer young people away from drug use.

“Not only have local garda numbers been cut, numbers in specialised garda units were also slashed by Fine Gael who have just buried their heads in the sand about the impact of the drugs epidemic on all communities. The entire nation has been left horrified by the brutal murder of a teenager in Drogheda last week. This is a symptom of an escalating drugs and gang problem across this country that will continue to worsen unless we see radical action from our politicians.

“The fact of the matter is that all sectors of society and every user must bear responsibility for gangland deaths and the terror inflicted on communities by the drugs trade. Fianna Fáil has called for a national education and awareness campaign to bring home to “recreational” users the role they play in gangland criminality.

“We need to see a significant increase garda numbers both here in Kerry and nationally. The force needs to stand at 16,000 gardaí across the country. Gardaí must be resourced to operate 24-hour around the clock surveillance of the gang leaders that are controlling the sale and supply of drugs in our communities. They know who they are – they just need the resources to monitor them.

“We also need to strengthen the laws around jailing gang criminals, giving gardaí the same powers with gang criminals as they have with the Provisional IRA. This would allow the “belief” of a Chief Superintendent that someone was involved in gangland crime to be introduced into evidence.

“The unavoidable fact is that there would be no drugs trade without the drug users. We need to target young people that are particularly at risk of being lured by drugs and the associated criminality”, concluded Cllr. Moriarty.