The State faces “losing control of a whole section” of Dublin if drug-related violence and intimidation in the north-inner city are not stopped, Taoiseach Micheál Martin was warned on Friday.
He heard people living in the area fear engaging with statutory agencies for fear of reprisals from drug dealers, that parents have been threatened with knives when bringing their children to crèche and residents are afraid to go to their local shop.
Mr Martin, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister of State for youth justice James Browne took part in the online meeting with the five convenors of the North Inner City Community Coalition. It followed a recent upsurge in violent crime in the area, including two knife killings.
Sarah Kelleher, chief executive of the Lourdes Youth and Community Services, described the meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, "as really productive and positive".
“I think the Taoiseach was alarmed and concerned by what we told him, that drug dealers are effectively running whole parts of the north east inner-city, that people do not feel safe and that safety is the number one issue,” she said.
“If they do not get the dealers off the streets and if people do not feel safe, well, nothing else they do will matter.”
Noel Wardick, chief executive of the Dublin City Community Co-operative, said the talks came two days after an online meeting participated in by 140 local people, at which "the mood wasn't even one of anger….it was a mood of fear, anxiety and a deep sadness at what is happening.
“I said, and people may think this is over the top but I can tell you it is the case, that the State faces losing control of a whole section of our capital city if it does not take control of and end the drug related violence and intimidation that is happening daily,” he said.
“We are not asking, we are not requesting, we are with dignity demanding that the crime, drugs, violence and intimidation end, and that people can go out on their streets, let their children play and go to work without fear just as in any other area in the country.”
In a statement issued after the meeting, Mr Martin said: “People must not be afraid to leave their homes because of a small minority who are determined to cause harm to others. The safety of the community in Dublin’s north inner city is a priority for us all.
He extended his sympathies to all those impacted by the deaths in recent weeks.
"An Garda Síochána has a comprehensive policing plan in place in Dublin's north inner city which will see high visibility patrols carried out on a daily basis, with a particular focus on the areas where public order and related offending has taken place in recent weeks," he added.
“There will be outreach and information programmes, run in a number of different languages, for all communities, as well as youth justice and other interventions.”