Young people at risk of being sucked into the drugs trade are being targeted by a grassroots project in an area devastated by a spate of gangland murders.
The GMTO initiative — ‘Get the Message out: There are Alternatives to Drugs & Crime’ — was set up in north east Dublin to try and lure young people away from drug gangs.
“2019 was a particularly difficult time for people living and working in the area as we saw too many young people losing their lives to drug-related violence,” according to Paul Rogers, CEO of Northside Partnership, which led the initiative.
He cited the gun murders of friends Sean Little, from Kilbarrack, and Jordan Davis in Darndale in May 2019 — both were aged 22. That November, Eoin Boylan, also aged just 22, was gunned down in Coolock.
In January 2020, there was the “horrific discovery” of partial remains of Drogheda teenager Keane Mulready-Woods in Darndale.
He said these murders sowed the seeds of GMTO.
Deborah Morgans, manager of EDIT (Edenmore Drugs Intervention Team) and spokesperson for GTMO said: “When we came together, we knew that we needed to get a message out to communities that they had not been forgotten and that we were trying to find a different way to target young people involved in the drug economy.”
She said they also wanted families who are caught up in drug-debt intimidation to know that there is support for them too.
“Another important goal for us is to encourage people to consider an alternative lifestyle by highlighting the opportunities, services and activities that are available to help them to reach their full potential,” she said.
Other people speaking at the launch included Ger Redmond, a Darndale man who turned his life around from gangs and prison to being a professional athlete.
He said he grew up in an area where drug dealing, car robbing, and fighting was “normalised” and wanted local kids to know they can dream and set goals.
Community groups involved include EDIT, Kilmore West Youth Project, Sphere 17, The Dales Centre, Donnycarney Youth Project, KCCP (Kilbarrack Coast Community Project), Archways Systemic Family Support, Travact, and Dublin North East Drug and Alcohol Taskforce.
Further details at: northsidepartnership.ie