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22 January 1998 Edition

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Anti-drugs groups demand resources

LEADING anti-drugs groups have united to call on the Dublin government to honour its election promise to provide funding for youth development.

The call follows the recent jailing in England of Dublin's top heroin trafficker, Thomas `The Boxer' Mullen.

The Coalition of Communites Against Drugs (COCAD), The Inner City Organisations Network (ICON), and the Dublin Wide Drugs Crisis Campaign said that government funding for day-to-day drugs prevention and education programmes is crucial in the fight against drugs.

The groups want the government to commit £20 million to a Youth Development Fund over the next three years.

Anti-drugs campaigner, Mick Rafferty said, ``High profile victories against individual traffickers are welcome, but they should not obscure the fact that there is a lot of hard work on the ground that needs vital support from the media and the government.

``There is a great deal of anger and resentment among parents and youth workers about the way in which the Youth Development Fund has been decimated.''

Rafferty added that it is of no benefit to put drugs barons in prison if the root causes are not tackled.

COCAD, ICON and City-Wide plan to hold a protest pageant at the Dail when TD's return on Wednesday, 28 January at 3.00pm.

The protest will signify the start of a rolling campaign to secure a serious goverment commitment to fighting the resurgent drugs menace.

Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke has backed the groups' demands and slated the government for its decision to welch on previous committments to the Youth Development Fund. ``Fianna Fail were very loud in support of the campaign against heroin when they were on the doorsteps of Dublin during the general election campaign.

``The drugs crisis has not gone away. We need resources at a local level to tackle the root causes of one the greatest problems facing our society today. That focus must be regained and those demands will be put back on the political agenda.''
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