Limerick’s top garda disputes councillor’s claims about drug dealers

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

THERE is no evidence to suggest that drug dealers are trying to sell drugs to secondary pupils outside their schools in Limerick, the head of the local garda division has said.

THERE is no evidence to suggest that drug dealers are trying to sell drugs to secondary pupils outside their schools in Limerick, the head of the local garda division has said.

Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan, Henry Street, was responding to claims made by Fine Gael councillor Cormac Hurley, a former garda, during a public meeting this week.

He said he has “no intelligence whatsoever” to support those claims, and “would be amazed” if they were true.

Cllr Hurley said he was not concocting the story but “shouldn’t have opened my mouth about it”, after he came under fire from other councillors for making these claims in the presence of the media.

“The person who told me is of utmost integrity and has experience the matter herself. I was very disgruntled and annoyed to hear it,” he said.

Labour councillor Tom Shortt said the councillor should not be introducing “hearsay”, saying “that situation simply doesn’t exist.”

The art teacher said anti-drugs policies would be at the top of schools’ agendas, along with cyber-bullying, which is a main issue of concern at present.

He said parents from middle-class areas are filling their children’s lives with a range of after-school classes to stop them from being tempted by other influences.

Cllr Shortt said that is why he has always been supportive of graffiti areas and the skatepark in the city, as they are “creative outlets” for young people.

Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan, who sits on the Mid-West drugs taskforce, also said this has never been mentioned at their meetings.

Following a report by a new community substance misuse team in the city, Labour city councillor Orla McLoughlin said the issue of drug addiction is not just confined to the young.

She said people in respectable professions across the city “are taking cocaine or a drink before they go to work”.

David McPhilips, an officer with a community substance misuse team on Mallow Street, said they dealt with 41 concerned persons and 69 youths since April 2012. He said their organisation aims to lessen the impact on parents when they find out their child is using a drug, and help them “to empower their kids.”

“If a youth is smoking cannabis 20 hours a week, you have to replace those hours with something else. It shouldn’t overtake a person’s life. We want to lessen the impact a period in an adolescent’s life has on their whole life,” said Mr McPhilips.

Cllr McLoughlin said while drugs should be “avoidable, we’re at a stage in society where it’s so accessible.”

She urged that young people need to appreciate their own self worth, and understand that a serious addiction could begin with “just one joint down a back-alley”.

“People go from one to the other when the first kick isn’t going to be repeated,” she warned.

Cllr Quinlivan said “the city has slept-walk into a drugs nightmare”, which he said he predicted some months ago. He said children as young as 10 are “high on drugs” and the issue of drugs is a “crisis” in the city.

Mayor Gerry McLoughlin said if he didn’t have sport in his life, “I don’t know what I’d be doing now.”

He said there are too many off-licenses in Limerick, “which we should get rid of altogether”.