Tallaght drugs and alcohol task force have called for €1 million in extra funding as a new report has found a “tsunami” of crack cocaine addiction and dealing in the area in recent years.
The report was launched in Killinarden in Tallaght on Monday by Independent Senator Lynn Ruane, who claimed families and communities in the Tallaght area were being abandoned by the Government.
People of the Tallaght and Whitechurch community and the services who support them have been "pushed well beyond any acceptable level of resilience, and it is incumbent on the state to act and adequately fund this highly populated community to build capacity, to flourish and escape the poverty levels it experiences" Ms Ruane said.
“You cannot read this report and ignore the relationship between poverty and addiction. The cost of a government not funding this issue is far greater than the cost of funding it,” she added.
The number of people being treated in task force projects in Tallaght has doubled in the last 10 years, and one third of those seeking help for crack cocaine addiction in the area are now women.
The report showed there has been a 75 per cent increase in drug-related crime, including intimidation of women by dealers, in the area since 2018. However, Tallaght has the joint lowest number of gardaí per head of population in the Dublin region.
Services supporting people in addiction in the area were “seriously underfunded” and at “breaking point” following the onset of a crack cocaine epidemic, according to Tallaght drugs and alcohol task force coordinator Grace Hill.
Despite escalating needs the task force had its budget cut from €1.3 million in 2010 to €1.2 million this year. It is now calling for an additional €1 million in Government funding to take on more front-line staff to address the crack issue, create more residential addiction, develop more direct interventions for vulnerable young people, and to fund more gardaí on the ground.
“Community drug services have been seriously underfunded for a number of years, but the growth in drug addiction, particularly crack cocaine, means that these services are under severe pressure, with waiting lists for vital supports for people in addiction,” Ms Hill said.
Crack cocaine causes “chaos and destruction in the life of the person trapped in addiction and hugely affects their children, their wider family and community,” Ms Hill said.
This included a growing number of women, who have become “trapped in a life of addiction and intimidation, who find it very difficult to escape the cycle of trauma and addiction without our help.”
The report found that in 2020 the number of people using Tallaght drugs and alcohol task force services because of crack cocaine addiction was among the highest in the country.
At the launch on Monday the need for increased funding and more residential places and specific programmes for those who have recovered was highlighted.
An area-based approach to working with other agencies including the county council, Tusla, and schools and colleges should also be created, the launch heard.