Councillor John Halligan, the Workers' Party General Election candidate in
Waterford, has voiced concern about official underplaying of the real problems caused by drugs in Waterford city and county.
In a direct address to the Government and law enforcement agencies, Councillor Halligan demanded to know if methadone, commonly used in the treatment of people addicted to heroin, is being sold without prescription on the streets of Waterford.
Cllr. Halligan said: "It seems ridiculous that, as a public representative in one of the largest centres of population in Ireland, I do not receive regular updates on drug seizures in Waterford.
"The human impact on drug users who become addicted to heroin is immeasurable and the drug also has a devastating effect on families, friends and society more generally. The implications of an increasing rate of heroin addiction in Waterford will include a rise in violent drug-related crime and theft."
The Workers' Party city councillor directed specific questions to the Gardaí about how they are tackling the drugs problem in Waterford and asked to know the number of Gardaí dedicated to this area.
"It is important that the law enforcement agencies let people living here know how they are approaching the problem. I would also ask how many Customs officers dedicated to the illegal drugs trade currently work in Waterford, and the cost of these to the tax-payer in relation to the value of drugs being seized.
"In Waterford, we are not given any up-to-date information about how we fare compared to other cities in Ireland. I think that details on the value of drugs seizures here compared to other Irish cities, and also the number of known drugs dealers operating in Waterford would enable people to judge if this problem is being tackled effectively"
"My impression is that we are living in a city awash with illegal drugs and I am particularly concerned about the growing use of heroin," he continued. "Someone has to ask these questions so that people living in Waterford know the extent of the problem and can force the Gardaí and government to face up to this."
Councillor Halligan also asked if there is any kind of targeted surveillance or profiling of the criminals involved in smuggling drugs:
"One of my main concerns is that the lack of any perceived anti-drugs activity may make Waterford seem a 'soft touch' to drug dealers. This would certainly explain why there now seem to be more drugs than ever in our city and county".
"The perceived lack of action, whether due to a lack of resources or failure to take a proper multi-agency approach is rapidly resulting in a loss of faith in the ability of GardaÍ and Customs officers' to tackle this problem".
"Everyone living in Waterford has a right to know what the various Government agencies are doing as a team to fight the drugs problem which, at the moment, seems very much a fact of life here."