Thank you, Sir, for allowing me to raise this matter and the Minister for coming in to reply. We are all aware of the drug marches organised in recent months throughout the inner city and suburbs against the drugs scourge. Local residents' and tenants' groups who feel betrayed and let down by the system have taken to the streets to highlight the social consequences of the problem in their areas. The cry "pushers out" is a common one as tenants try to reclaim their areas. According to reports, several tenants have left their local authority flats and houses following requests and hassle from concerned tenants. Some left before they were thrown out and, regardless of whether we like the methods used, they have been successful.
The understanding is that drug pushers evicted by tenants or legally by local authorities have set up house a mile or so down the road and are still carrying on their drug pushing activities. Worse still is the perception that the State is giving them a rent allowance towards accommodation costs. Is data of all evictions, legal or otherwise, collated by the four Dublin local authorities and supplied to the Department? Has the Department issued specific instructions that drug pushers be refused rent allowance? It is unacceptable that these people should qualify for rent allowance.
I hope the Minister does not quote regulations to the effect that everybody has a statutory right to apply for rent allowance. I am aware that legislation is promised, which will be introduced soon, but we need answers. Regardless of whether there is a statutory base for action it should be taken. There is a perception that the State is helping drug pushers who are only laughing at the rest of us. Let a do-gooder of a solicitor take the Minister to court on behalf of a pusher client, if he or she so wishes, but we must take a commonsense approach. I hope the Minister will tell me I am wrong but there is a perception that these people qualify for the allowance.