Dublin is experiencing a plague of drugs which is raging out of control, Catholic Archbishop Dermot Farrell has said. In Ireland generally, taking drugs for some people was now the same as having a drink, he said. “The ‘normalisation’ of a drugs culture in Ireland is a major societal issue,” he said.
“Even in the midst of the pandemic, another ‘epidemic’—that of crack cocaine and the violence that follows in its wake,” has taken hold, he said. “The causes of the crack cocaine epidemic we are experiencing in this city, and more widely across the country, are complex and deep-seated,” but he believed “the plague of drugs, which rages out of control, can be effectively addressed if we all work together.”
Speaking at a Mass in St Andrews Church on Westland Row, he said that, “based on the goodwill and the many dedicated efforts of community groups, government and religious leaders” these causes can be addressed.
The solution “does not lie only in stemming the flood of illegal drugs, dismantling the drug gangs and cartels, more effective policing, reforming the criminal justice system, investment in historically disadvantaged areas, but it’s also a matter of character,” he said.
“The real response is not just a better drugs programme, but a willingness to journey with the families whose members are ensnared by unscrupulous peddlers of drugs, peddlers of death. To bring people back we need to accompany them,”he said.
We were “all brothers and sisters inextricably connected to each other. If we lose that sense of interconnectedness, we also lose our sense of compassion, empathy and responsibility for each other.”
There were “people in this city, in the Church, in our schools, in our estates and in our families who are committed to the care of those afflicted by drugs,” he said. They were “marked by a striving to minister to those caught in the cycle of addiction,” he said.
Waiting, as marked by the season of Advent, “has moved to the centre of our lives in ways that we couldn’t have imagined two short years ago: the omnipresent waiting for Covid-19 tests, and then the waiting for the result. Now many are eagerly waiting for a Covid-19 booster.”
There were “people with terminal illnesses waiting to depart this life” and “there are families waiting for the contagion of drugs to be eradicated,” he said.