Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald must visit Dublin's north inner-city to witness for herself the "devastation" being "wreaked" by the drugs crisis, a coalition of community groups has said.
The Inner-City Organisations Network (Icon) along with three other groups based in the Sheriff Street, Summerhill Parade and Amiens Street areas, where two men have been shot dead in the last fortnight, are also calling for increased Garda visibility and the establishment of a Dublin Inner-City Authority to tackle economic decline and entrenched social disadvantage.
The groups made the call at a meeting near where Martin O'Rourke (24) was shot dead, in a case of mistaken identity, on April 14th, and Michael Barr (35) was shot dead on April 25th.
These most recent killings mark an escalation in the seven-month-old Hutch-Kinahan feud which has now cost six lives.
Sparked by the murder of Gerry Hutch (34) in Spain last September, a series of tit-for-tat retaliatory killings began in Dublin in February when Hutch-associate, David Byrne (33), was shot at a boxing weigh-in, in the Regency Hotel. Of the four subsequent killings, three have taken place in the north inner-city.
The community was, "appalled by the violence on [the] streets," said Seanie Lambe, Icon chairman.
“This community is home to thousands of decent caring people who are good neighbours, good friends, and who are rearing their families to be good and decent people. But these senseless deaths are just the most visible and extreme face of the trauma that has been inflicted on us for nearly 40 years as a result of the devastating drugs crisis.”
People who spoke from the floor said there were at the end of their tether. They were afraid to go out of their front doors with children, because of public drug-dealing. They said they “kept the head down . . . afraid of what you might see, afraid you’d be blamed for ratting to the guards”.
One woman, who ran a childcare and older persons’ facility, said: “I have children aged two, three and four coming in past open drug-dealing. I have elderly people and they are afraid because of the drug-dealing 24/7. We feel completely left on our own. Would this be allowed in Foxrock?”
Another said: “In the 1980s and 1990s we could have marched. Now you’d be afraid you’d be shot if you did.”
Mr Lambe said an increased Garda presence was necessary, but added, “deep-rooted” socio-economic problems had to be addressed. There had been “massive cuts” to such services as public health nurses, school completion programme, home-school liaison programmes, youth-diversion programmes and drugs programmes, he said.
“Our community has been attacked by criminals and drug dealers on one hand, and by State indifference on the other.”