Ireland is experiencing a gangland and drugs crisis in which communities and families are experiencing intimidation on a daily basis a recent drugs conference in Dublin has heard.

As conference members called for communities to “stand up” against drug barons one drug worker predicted that unless there is serious intervention there would be widespread gang feuds “all over the country” over the next five years.

The conference which was organized by the City-Wide Drugs Crisis Campaign in Dublin was opened by the Minister for Drugs Pat Carey and was attended by over 100 drug workers from across Ireland.

Susan Collins of Addiction Response Crumlin (ARC) said there could be 17 shootings in the south-west area of Dublin over two days alone and people wouldn't hear about it. Ongoing feuds in the area between rival gangs have claimed 13 lives in the past 10 years.

“We now have a gangland crisis and intimidation of whole communities. We are going to have gang feuds all over the country within the next five years," said Ms Collins, as she urged local communities to “stand up” for themselves.

“Gardai can't be everywhere. If I stand up and speak, they can't protect my car from being damaged Communities have to stand up,” she added.

According to drug project workers children as young as 11 are been exposed to drugs on a regular basis. Jimmy Norman of ARC's under-18s project said they were dealing with 11 and 12-year-olds who were taking tablets and drinking alcohol.

Megan O'Leary of the Family support Network reported that violence directed towards families has escalated. Families are experiencing physical violence including assaults and shootings because of drug debts owed by their family members.

Key note speaker Brian Harvey, who is an independent social researcher said that if similar levels of intimidation occurred in middle class areas, a lot more would be done.