Gardaí are applauding themselves over the “success” of ‘Operation Stilts’ – the crackdown on “antisocial” behaviour in the city centre, which means they have been carrying out searches under the Misuse of Drugs Act and moving on “undesirables” from busy shopping and tourist districts.
This issue stems from the state establishing the main methadone clinics in the city centre; from Merchant’s Quay, the City Clinic in Amiens Street to the National Drug Treatment in Pearse Street – the largest of the methadone suppliers in the country.
Over Christmas, the Minister of Justice, Frances Fitzgerald met with “concerned” business leaders to discuss “safety” in the capital. This indicates the government’s allegiances are with the capitalist class and not with the real victims of addiction. Indeed the Gardaí also adopted a “collaborative approach” with Dublin businesses for their targeted operation.
There is no doubt that drug abuse is a serious issue in Ireland. There are about twelve drug-related deaths every week and nearly 5,500 deaths from drug overdoses since last year. Furthermore eight out of ten such deaths were young men, with more than half having mental health issues.
The coalition has cut funding for drug task forces by a staggering 37 per cent. On December 17, the night of the vote in the Dáil on the Water Services the Dáil Bar made €7,461. It is clear who the real parasites are, and they do not have to resort to the cold, unforgiving streets of the capital to find relief.
Instead of enforcing incredible hardship on its citizens, and then treating a psychological, medical issue as a criminal one; the State would do well to provide adequate funding for communities in the form of addiction services.