Drugs Minister admits 'crack cocaine use on rise and communities live in fear' as she agrees to meet Dublin GAA club ravaged by 'epidemic'

Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne has admitted that crack cocaine use is on the rise and said communities "are living in fear due to the violence associated with the illegal drugs market".

The minister is seeking a meeting with members of Setanta GAA club in Ballymun , who last week told how a crack epidemic is threatening an entire generation of young people in the area.

She said yesterday: "I know from the feedback received, in particular from community-based projects including Ballymun, that there has been an increase in the use of crack cocaine."

Setanta claims that children - some as young as 13 - have been lured away from its set-up by the influence of alcohol, drugs and gangs.

Dublin Live reported how the GAA club's executive sent a letter to Deputy Byrne demanding urgent action to tackle use of the highly addictive and potentially deadly drug , which has risen 10-fold.

Setanta, which has two adult and six juvenile teams, wrote it is “on the frontline dealing with the ramifications this cancer brings”.

Now Deputy Byrne is looking to meet with officials from the club, and the Irish Independent reports that she wrote a letter in which she admitted "there has been an increase in the use of crack".

She wrote: "Criminal activity and an active illicit drug market can create an intimidating environment for families and communities.

"The use of violence or the threat of violence to enforce debts further impacts on communities by creating an atmosphere of fear."

Setanta's health and welfare officer Gemma McCabe, last week told Dublin Live that the club's open letter was designed to spur the Government into action.

Ms McCabe said: “It’s a huge concern knowing what’s on the doorstep.

“We wanted to highlight how bad things are. It’s far worse than it ever was with heroin.

“Everything in resources and funding is less than it’s ever been. There’s no supports. Sending the letter, it’s basically looking to push the Government to help out.”

Drug awareness programmes are run by the club but they are stretched as volunteers try to provide facilities and initiatives for teenagers.

Gemma added: “The crack cocaine deterioration is so much quicker than anything heroin did. It’s scary."

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