Letter to the Editor: Drugs & Gang Crime

By Albert Byrne | February 2, 2020

A Chara,

I am standing for election to the Dáil in the constituency of Louth and would like to share some thoughts in relation to drugs and gang violence with your readers:

We will not fix the problem until we know the solution and for that we need to think outside the box. As Einstein once said: the definition of insanity is doing something the same way while expecting a different result.

In Portugal, where drug use was decriminalised in 2001 (if the user had no more than a 10 day supply) there was a fear that there would be more drug users and with that more crime. The opposite happened. In addition, sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug use decreased dramatically. There has also been a 60% increase in uptake of treatment programs as of 2012. The tax payer has benefited from the decrease in costs of incarceration and the war on drugs. Money which can be better used elsewhere.

Social exclusion is an important factor in the seduction of crime as is a lack of education and emotional development. When I lived in Peckham, London in the late 80’s I was struck by the sense of disaffection felt by many who lived there. There was a strong sense of detachment from the mainstream and crime was simply a way to survive. Taking from those perceived to have access to what they needed did not pose a moral dilemma. The rules of normal life did not apply and as such were not taken seriously.

So the solution has to be multi-factorial starting with funding for preschool education to give children the strongest possible chance for success in life, i.e., emotional intelligence is equally if not more important than what we normally refer to as intelligence and this begins in the creche. When government cuts back on investment in education, outreach programs and community policing and fail to fund much needed community projects, a rise in gang crime is inevitable as is the misuse of drugs. We need to recognise the needs of vulnerable youth who feel ostracised and are easily seduced by the camaraderie of criminality.

The causes of gang violence are deeply rooted and will not be solved through reactionary measures but by cool collected reasoning and public funding which eventually is clawed back by the benefits a reduction in crime brings.

That is why we must always be aware of the needs of the under-privileged in our society and seek to instil a sense of belonging for everyone in our community.

It is also worth mentioning that many of the social problems we now see are a result of the bank bailouts and the economic crash of 2008, not to mention the siphoning off of state funds through badly managed infrastructure projects. This has led to suicides, domestic violence, drug abuse and so on. We need a system which does not allow government to waste tax payers money and pass on the social problems which ensue. For this we need reform and transparency.

Is mise le meas,

Albert Byrne

Candidate Louth Dáil Election 2020

Facebook: www.facebook.com/albertdbyrne

Web: www.albertbyrne.ie

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