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Tackle gangs by legalising drugs

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Peter McVerry SJ was pulling no punches on the Pat Kenny’s radio programme on Tuesday 8 January. He was discussing the impact of Gangland culture on young people and Irish society in general. Peter said the gangs would only cease to exist when the sale of drugs became legalised and controlled.

The discussion came on foot of comments by Garda Commissioner Martin Callanan that there were now over 25 gangs operating in Ireland, trading in drugs and with international connections. Also in studio was Jim Cusack, Crime Correspondent of the Sunday Independent and Martin Donnellan, retired Assistant Garda Commissioner.

Listeners heard how boys as young as fourteen were involved in criminal gangland activity and most could look forward to a short life with a violent end. Peter Mc Verry spoke of how paranoid most gang members were, mistrusting each other and terrified that a former colleague might end up in court testifying against them.

He told the story on one young man murdered because he had the number of a Garda Station on his mobile phone. But he had logged the number  simply because he wanted to get his car registered and taxed legally.

But as all the panel agreed, whilst gang members may meet a violent and untimely death, there are no shortage of youngsters wanting to take their place. And it was in this context that Peter McVerry said controversially, that he was convinced that the only way to destroy the gangland culture was to take away the gangs source of income – illegal drugs. If drugs were legalised and the selling of them controlled by the State, there would be no need or market for drug dealing gangs, he claimed.

Listen here to the discussion on Today With Pat Kenny, RTE Radio 1. (31 minutes into programme).