Belfast Telegraph

Task force needed immediately to tackle crime in Dublin’s northside – Labour

Senator Aodhan O Riordain has been calling for a multi-agency task force for more than a year.

Forensics officers and gardai in Dublin where human remains were found (PA)
Forensics officers and gardai in Dublin where human remains were found (PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The Labour Party has again called for a task force to be set up to tackle crime in Dublin’s northside.

Senator Aodhan O Riordain, who has been calling for a multi-agency task force for more than a year, said that the area, which has seen six murders in seven months linked to a drugs feud, cannot continue to be neglected.

The murder of 17 year-old Keane Mulready-Woods has shocked the country in recent days, after the boy’s body parts were found in different areas of Dublin. However, the Labour Senator said he “doesn’t know” if this murder will define the election, as he felt the previous six murders should have been enough to spark change.

Some of the teenager’s limbs were found in a bag in Coolock. Other body parts were found in a burnt-out car in Drumcondra. It is suspected but not confirmed that they belong to the teenager.

Mr O Riordain said he cannot understand the reluctance of the government to implement a task force in the area, similar to the one implemented by former taoiseach Enda Kenny for Dublin’s north inner city in 2017, to tackle crime and help divert vulnerable young people from criminality by maximising educational or training opportunities and creating local employment.

“Asking for that to be replicated here, I just didn’t get a response. I didn’t get any enthusiasm, and I can’t speak to that,” he said.

“Sometimes I wonder if six people had been murdered in a different part of the country, would we get a different response?

“I know a lot of teachers, youth workers and residents have a lot to say on what could be changed here, rather than a knee-jerk more guards answer.

“I’m very disappointed that it’s come to this, rather than taking the initiative much earlier.”

Such a task force would see the Garda, working with probation and community services, schools and local representatives form a Mulvey-style report, which was initiated in response to the series of gangland murders in the North East Inner City, arising from the ongoing feud between criminal gangs.

Despite sustained campaigning, Mr O Riordain said he was “reduced” to launching a petition before the election in order for the community’s voice to be heard.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said that to implement another Mulvey-style report would dilute the ability of such task forces, and could then be asked to be replicated in many other locations.

Mr O Riordain replied: “We’ve had six murders in seven months, I would suggest that is a reason why a task force should be established.

“I would also point to the fact that this government has been criticised by the nine former drugs ministers for taking the community voice away from drugs task forces, and we need to get that back.

“Children are walking past crime scenes and murder scenes on their way to school and they think this is normal, and it is wrong they think it’s normal – I don’t accept what Charlie Flanagan has said today as being helpful.”

Mr O Riordain said there is a palpable level of fear in these communities regarding the drugs gangs, and noted incidents in which parents are being extorted due to a drug debt run up by their child.

We are absolutely at a crossroads, and we have to show that the state can work and find solutions Senator Aodhan O Riordain

“Why do they do it? They do it to frighten people,” he said.

“Parents are asking; ‘Do I go to the guards or the credit union?’.

“They’re thinking the credit union, because mothers and fathers around the country are thinking of a young man in a bag.

“They’re sending a message that this is what happens to your child if you don’t play by our rules.

“We are absolutely at a crossroads, and we have to show that the state can work and find solutions.”

He added he would be in favour of a system like that implemented in Portugal, in which the possession of drugs for personal use is decriminalised, which he says is clogging up Irish courts and not focusing on the route of the problem.

PA

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