By Jane Last
Saturday October 31 2009
DRUG dealers have threatened to kill a 16-year-old boy in West Dublin over a modest debt.
In recent weeks, a number of associates from the criminal underworld have called to the teenager's family home demanding money, or he will die.
Sources close to his terrified family are saying they are now urging the authorities to keep the boy in custody for his own safety.
The West Dublin boy is presently before Dublin Children's Court on a number of charges, and is in custody.
In the last few weeks, a number of men have called to their home on three different occasions demanding money.
One man is understood to have told the boy's mother: "Tell him if I don't get my money, I'm going to kill him, he's dead."
The Herald understands that the same threat has been intimated to other associates of the boy's family in recent weeks.
It is understood the boy was either selling drugs or dealing them -- but they were relatively small amounts. It is believed the debt he owes them ranges between several hundred and a thousand euro.
He is currently up on a number of physical assault charges before Dublin's Children's Court -- and was remanded in custody recently.
A source close to the teenager's family say they fear for his life. "He has been through every social worker, all pyschiatrists and psychologists, youth groups, meetings and mental assessments.
"But since he was 14, it has been non-stop. They have been told that he was a child and he was innocent, there was nothing the authorities could do.
"However, if he comes out again from custody, it's believed he will be killed. It's only a matter of time," the source added.
Earlier this year, it was claimed that crime gangs were using children, often as young 12, as drug and weapon couriers.
Gangs act in the knowledge that the young age of these children will mean they will escape harsh punishment.
Barnardo's warned the situation would only get worse, with proposed cutbacks in education funding leading to more schoolchildren dropping out of school and ending up in a life of crime.
It also called for a more co-ordinated approach to the problem after the unpublished report on children placed in special care and high-support units revealed that not one child from Limerick has been placed into custody for their own protection in the last 18 months.
This is despite concerns among gardai and health workers that underage children are being coerced into working as 'foot-soldiers' for gangs in the region.
In Dublin, the Children's Court has heard evidence of drugs seizure totalling €3.98m in the past year.
This was the combined value of seizures in 25 cases which passed before the court involving children aged between 13 and 17.
The cases involved children from all over the city and were not just confined to areas which have traditionally been blighted by drug dealing.
- Jane Last