Tuesday, 23 May 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
280. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the views on the issues raised in the submission from the Ballyfermot Business Watch entitled Ballyfermot Policing Crisis (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14138/00]
Minister for Justce, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I am informed by the Garda Authorities that there have been a number of operations carried out by the local drug unit which have resulted in large seizures of controlled drugs and cash within the Ballyfermot district. In this context, Operation Cleanstreet has been utilised in this area and, during the period 11 January 2000 to 15 April 2000 268 people have been detained under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 to 1984, in the Ballyfermot Road/Le Fanu Park area.
I am also informed by the Garda authorities that the local gardaí, having attended many meetings with community groups, business watch, Cherryorchard Development Council, neighbourhood watch and Ballyfermot local drugs task force, are very much aware of local concerns.
I am informed that the following measures  have been taken by the local Garda management to address the problem: special public order patrol units are in operation from Monday to Saturday, inclusive. Patrol times are reviewed on a weekly basis for optimum effectiveness. Special operations are mounted from time to time in order to target particular areas where it is anticipated that problems may arise. For instance, last autumn “operation lawns” targeted the Le Fanu Road/Lawns Park area of Ballyfermot, where drug dealing and alcohol abuse were occurring. Special beats, backed up by patrol jeeps and the task force unit, were used. The local drugs unit also patrolled the area. This operation, resulted in a large number of arrests under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977. Further arrests were made for public order offences. This operation was repeated for a week last January.
The gardaí in Ballyfermot are also very involved in a number of Government-funded, community-based projects, which are designed to benefit young people in the area who are likely to become involved in crime. The success of these projects is due to the hard work of dedicated local individuals with the assistance of the Garda.
In addition, the Garda authorities have also informed me that monthly meetings have been held between the Garda and Dublin Corporation to discuss estate management. In 1998-99 there were 33 evictions in the Ballyfermot sub-district for anti-social behaviour, many involving co-operation between the Garda and the local authority.
The first report of the ministerial task force on measures to reduce the demand for drugs identified Ballyfermot upper and lower as one of the 13 areas with the most acute heroin problem. A local drugs task force was established. Funding of £922,000 was allocated to support the implementation of the Ballyfermot local drugs task force service development plan.
The Ashling Centre on Ballyfermot Road is used by the Eastern Region Health Authority as a dispensary centre for physeptone. Drug addicts from outside the area attend this centre. My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, has informed me that the provision of drug misuse services in the Ballyfermot area is the responsibility of the South Western Area Health Board. He has further informed me that the board will meet traders from the Ballyfermot area on Thursday, 25 May 2000 to discuss issues in relation to drug misuse services and the concerns which traders have.
The CCTV advisory committee, which was established by the Garda Commissioner to evaluate CCTV applications, is considering an application which was received for a Garda CCTV system in the shops area of Ballyfermot. No application for CCTV has been received to date for the Cherry Orchard area.
The community policing forum is being piloted in Kevin Street Garda Station, and a review, of the pilot scheme will be carried out to assess its merits. On completion of this review consider ation will be given to having this scheme extended to other areas.
Finally, I have been assured by the Garda Authorities that crime and drug-related activity is monitored on an ongoing basis in the Ballyfermot district with a view to curbing and dealing effectively with such activity.
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