Children in deprived areas “aspire” to sell drugs because of lack of opportunity, a youth worker has claimed.
Karl Ducque is a team leader with the Targeted Response with Youth (TRY) project in inner city Dublin and sees the impact of criminal gangs and inequality on a daily basis.
“If you could imagine growing up on Sheriff Street and not being presented with opportunities but walking by the financial centre every day,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“We can talk about equality and inclusion and all that - but you walk by that financial centre every day and you know that, ‘I’ll never be a part of that.’”
Some of those who feel excluded then turn to criminality - which can offer vulnerable young people the opportunity to make a lot of money.
“You look at areas where I work like Oliver Bond and St Teresa’s Gardens,” he said.
“You have young people growing up who, I suppose, some of them aspire to be involved in gangland criminal activities like selling drugs.
“That to me is lack of opportunity within areas - it’s negative beliefs and role models within areas.”
For Mr Ducque it is a cycle that goes back decades; he describes drug use as “very common” when he was growing up and he began smoking heroin when he was 15-years-old.
He had one close friend who died from drug use at 18 and during his years of addiction he slowly began to “lose count” of the number who passed away.
It was his determination to help others avoid the same fate that got him involved with the TRY project.
The organisation provides at-risk youth between the ages of 14 and 25 with mentors who try to counter the influence of criminals in the local area.
“You’ve young kids growing up and looking at dealers standing on corners,” Mr Ducque said.
“They have the nice runners, the cars, they have the respect within that area and they aspire to do that.”
The TRY project was set up in 2017 in St Teresa’s Garden and was expanded to include the nearby Bond Garden flats in 2021; it is funded by the Department for Justice.
Main image: Drug dealing. Picture by: Alamy.com