A bill introduced by Sinn Féin TDs Mark Ward and Ruairí Ó Murchú that would see money seized by CAB put back into disadvantaged communities passed first stage in the Dáil today.
Speaking after the debate, Teachta Ward said:
“The vast majority of the money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau has been extracted from the communities in which the criminals have been active. It must therefore be returned to these communities.
“Sinn Féin has always advocated that any money seized by CAB should be put back into communities to build resilience and to enhance existing community services
“In fact, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh first raised this over 10 years ago.
“In response to a parliamentary question I raised, it was confirmed that CAB seized almost €65 million in cash and assets 2019. This is a huge increase on previous years and is very welcome news.
“I represent Dublin Mid West and grew up in north Clondalkin. Parts of my constituency have been ripped apart from drug use over the years.
“If passed, this bill would require the Minister for Finance to carry out a review of the financial supports required for disadvantaged communities affected by crime, and to reinvest the money generated through the seizure of assets by CAB in those communities, with a view to alleviating the impact of crime and enhancing crime prevention measures.
“This money invested in our communities needs to be on top of allocated resources, and not seen as a replacement. It would also not hinder community organisations in applying for any additional resources they require through the normal funding channels.
“It does not happen by accident that most of the money seized by CAB originates in areas that are highly disadvantaged. I welcome the news that the Minister announced that there will be a fund created to provide additional funding for investment in community safety projects from the proceeds of CAB.
“Community safety is important but so too is building community resilience. Drug tasks forces, family resource centres, youth organisations, unemployment services, sports clubs and others who work in disadvantaged areas should benefit from this fund.
“I have had positive soundings from government parties when I have raised this issue in the Dáil, and I am hoping that this bill receives cross-party support as it progresses.”
Teachta Ó Murchú added:
“My own area of Dundalk and other working class areas have been absolutely ravaged with this problem. Even in the last fortnight, I have been dealing with issues in relation to drugs and intimidation, and I have to commend the work of the Gardaí dealing with this.
“We need to ensure that money seized by CAB goes to the right places, such as addiction services and interventions in areas affected. I support some of the soundings we are getting from government in relation to these community safety partnerships.
“But we have to deal with criminal gangs first and foremost, and I call on everybody to support this piece of legislation.
“I am fed up with criminal gangs forcing parents, grandparents and siblings to pay off debts that end up being significantly higher than the initial money when the debt started.
“We have to put their lights out. This legislation means if they hurt us and if they hurt our communities, we hurt them and, in doing so, reinvest in our communities.”