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Drugs found in Ballinrobe graveyard

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Nowhere sacred as drugs scourge spirals ‘out of control’ in south Mayo

Edwin McGreal

The problem of drugs has spiraled ‘out of control’ in south Mayo, according to a local councillor. Branding the scourge of drugs an ‘epidemic’ in the area, Cllr Damien Ryan (FF) has called for a pilot policing scheme to tackle the issue.
The councillor was speaking at last Friday’s Mayo Joint-Policing Committee (JPC) meeting. During the meeting, An Garda Síochána revealed that drugs had even been found in a graveyard in Ballinrobe, demonstrating how nowhere is sacred.
“From talking to teachers, parents and the community at large, it is the number one issue I receive representation on: what are we doing about drugs? It used to be infrastructure, but now it is drugs,” said Cllr Ryan.

‘Explosive’
“I know gardaí are doing their best,” the councillor continued. “They’ve had huge detections, but we need a pilot scheme in the south of the county to deal with what has become an explosive issue.
“I’ve said it before that the proximity to Galway and proximity to the motorway are major factors. The problem has gone out of control, and I say that in the strongest possible terms.
“At the initiation of this JPC, we asked that drugs be the number-one priority and it is important we pursue that. We need a pilot scheme for what has become an explosive situation,” he reiterated.
Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna said that so far this year in south Mayo, there have been 16 detections of drug possession for sale or supply; 44 of possession for own use and one detection of cultivation. He added that the divisional drugs unit has expanded in recent years.
In the county as a whole, 2021 has so far seen 62 detections drug possession for sale or supply and 186 detections of drug possession for own use.

Profiling suggested
Cllr Michael Burke (FG) said the number of detections outlined by DS McKenna is ‘extremely high’ for an area with a relatively small population. He added that if the general guide that only 10 percent of drug [crimes] are caught is applied, it give an indication of how high the true figure of drug crimes in the area might be.
“That [would suggest] there’s a huge amount of people in our area dealing drugs … they feel can go around and supply the drugs whether it is in the graveyard or down a side road.
“It is hard to identify who is dealing in some instances, but I would suggest if the Gardaí do some profiling of people….”
Cllr Burke said that some people in the area are living ‘very good lifestyles’ whilst being on unemployment benefit of €206.
“I would call for more profiling of some people that appear to have an income … You’d imagine some of them won the lotto to be honest,” he said.

‘Awfully high’
Cllr Burke added that illegal drug use is a problem affecting people as young as 14 years of age.
“Kids as young as 14 and 15 are being brought into this system, being offered small amounts [of drugs], because young people will try things. We must take as much action as possible.
“When I read that [in south Mayo] 16 suppliers were caught and 44 [detections] were people using, I think that is awfully high for a small community,” he said.
It was agreed to discuss the matter further at a sub-committee of the JPC, which will report back to the full JPC.
Cllr Michael Loftus also asked for a report on the activities of the Criminal Assets Bureau in Mayo since it was formed, and requested that an update be made available at every meeting.