Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams says families in County Louth are ‘living in terror’ due to drug gangs.
The Louth TD told the Dáil that one family had been petrol bombed whilst they slept in their beds over St Patrick’s weekend when an alleged debt owed by their son hadn’t been paid.
The family had already handed over €3,700 but when they refused to pay an additional €8,000 on top of that, their house was targeted.
He explained that other families in the area have been subjected to similar treatment and called for additional resources to help gardaí to tackle the matter as a matter of urgency.
“There is a growing problem of extortion with violence and threats by drug gangs in County Louth,” said Mr Adams.
"These gangs are demanding that the families of those who they claim owe them money must now pay the alleged debt. Last week I visited one family in Louth who are quite simply living in terror. Over the space of six months this family paid a drug gang a total of €3,700 for debts allegedly owed by their son.
"The drug gang has targeted this family in a sustained campaign of intimidation and threats and attempted extortion. The drug gang are now demanding another €8000.
"However, this family is demonstrating remarkable courage in the face of threats, and is standing firm and rejecting the drug gang’s demand. When I visited the home, the family were clearly very anxious.
"Their fears are well founded. Over the St Patrick’s weekend their home was petrol bombed while they slept in their beds.”
The impact of the bomb breaking a window woke the family and they were able to extinguish the fire before anyone was hurt. Mr Adams believes two gangs in particular are responsible for the spate of attacks in the area.
He said: "Other families have also been targeted. Other homes have been attacked. Cars have been destroyed. Families have fled their homes.
"During my last meeting in Dundalk Garda Station in January the officers informed me that the Louth Drugs and Crime Unit is now up and running with three extra staff in Dundalk and five in Drogheda.
"This is a good start but these numbers are still far too low to deal with the scale of the problem."