Family who refused to pay drugs gang attacked, Adams tells Dáil

Threats by dealers to force people to pay relatives’ debts raised by Sinn Féin TD

Sinn Fein TD  Gerry Adams: said one family in his constituency was living in terror. File Photograph: Neil Hall/Reutes

Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams: said one family in his constituency was living in terror. File Photograph: Neil Hall/Reutes

 

A Co Louth family who paid €3,700 to a drugs gang for debts allegedly owed by their son then had their home petrol bombed when they refused to pay a further €8,000, the Dáil has been told.

Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said it was a growing problem that drugs gangs were demanding the families of those who they claim owe them money must pay the alleged debt.

He called for additional resources for gardaí to deal with the threat in his Co Louth constituency, which he believed was down to two drugs gangs.

He asked Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to consider legislation to require identity for the purchase of mobile phones.

Mr Adams said they were widely used in the illegal drugs trade and many of the threats to the family being victimised were by mobile phone.

Mr Flanagan said a dedicated policing operation was in place to specifically target the ongoing drugs feud in Co Louth and a considerable amount of cash firearms and drugs had been seized.

‘Intimidation’

They had put in place measures to prevent, detect and mitigate against any further escalation of violence between the groups involved.

Mr Adams said one family in his constituency was living in terror. They had paid €3,700 over the last six months for their son’s alleged debts. The gang targeted the family with a “sustained campaign of intimidation, threats and attempted extortion”.

When the family refused to pay another €8,000 in extortion money, their home was petrol bombed on St Patrick’s weekend while they were asleep.

Mr Adams said the impact of the bomb broke a window and woke them, allowing them to extinguish the fire before anyone was hurt, he said.

He said it was “very unique” that a family would withstand such intimidation. Other families were also being targeted, their homes being attacked, cars destroyed and families have fled their homes, he said.

“I know tonnes of families who won’t take that stand and I don’t blame them for it.”

Mr Adams praised the gardaí for their efforts to assist affected families but they were being “starved of resources”.

Drugs and crime units had been established but the resources were far too low to deal with the scale of the problem.

He called for additional resources, legislation on mobile phones and a multi-agency approach to bring all stakeholders together. Mr Flanagan said liaison is ongoing with all these groups.

The Minister assured Mr Adams that gardaí offer families in such situations the best levels of support, guidance, confidentiality and security.

Gardaí will make every effort to ensure “those responsible for criminal activity be it extortion, intimidation, threats or otherwise will be brought to justice”.