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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 November, 2019
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Former Real IRA gang associates selling steroids as number of addicts rises

Senior republicans have issued a warning to the men.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

FORMER MEMBERS OF a once-feared Dublin crime gang are now dealing steroids in city centre gyms as the number of people attending addiction services increases.

At least two men, who were close associates of murdered Real IRA (RIRA) leader Alan Ryan, are behind the trade which sees the medications flown into the North and distributed across the border and then into the capital.

Gardaí, as well as customs officers, are aware of the trade and authorities on both sides of the border have been told of specific routes through which the drugs are being transported.

Gardaí believe about a dozen gyms in the city centre and northside have been used as selling points.

It is thought some of the gym owners paid protection money to the RIRA when they set up their businesses.

Trend spotted

The trend of widespread steroid use began in Ireland around five years ago, according to Mark Kennedy of Merchant’s Quay Ireland (MQI).

The outreach centre sees around 350 people a year come to them looking for new needles for steroid use and this figure is increasing by 10% a year.

In one case gardaí are investigating, it is understood the location was turned into a gym at the behest of the gang so they could start selling the steroids.

“We see people using steroids all the time. A lot visit more than once a to pick up syringes for friends or social circles or networks,” continued Kennedy.

Your safest bet would be not to use these products. If you’re looking to build muscle, the number one option is to focus on training and diet. That’s what the experts in the area are saying.

Widespread steroid use

The steroids that many Irish people are injecting can often be contaminated, according to Kennedy. Others share needles which can lead to contraction of viruses like HIV.

“Users don’t know the quality of the steroids they’re receiving. Our advice would be not to use them. I’ve seen people can become dependent. It can be expensive also. It can cost people €200 a month.

A lot of the time you don’t know what you’re injecting. A lot of the time they’re black market and it can be very unhygienic. I’ve seen pictures of these products being mixed in bathtubs with unclean water. The labels are easily counterfeited.

Latest figures have shown the number of steroids seized by the State has trebled in the last 12 months.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) seized 109,006 doses of the drug. This is compared to 38,049 in 2015.

The HPRA’s director of compliance John Lynch says it is worrying that people are still sourcing prescription drugs from illegal sources.

“It is particularly noteworthy that anabolic steroids accounted for 16% of products detained, a significant increase compared to 2015,” he said.

The misuse of anabolic steroids has been linked to a range of significant side effects including blood clots, headaches, depression, irritability and stomach pain. People are sourcing these products for purposes of performance enhancement and are either unaware of or ignoring the significant dangers posed by these prescription medicines in the absence of medical supervision.

In total there were six cases where people were formally prosecuted for the provision of illegal medicines last year and there were also 13 formal cautions handed out.

Hypocrisy

According to republican sources, RIRA members’ involvement in the trade highlights a certain hypocrisy within the gang which has previously claimed an anti-drug stance. It routinely runs dealers out of working class areas, while at other times taking a cut of the dealers’ profits and allow them to continue supplying an area.

Outside of investigating gardaí, the dealing of the steroids has not gone unnoticed. Hardline republicans see the behavior of these two men as being against the principles of their organisation

Many republicans believe the trade as a betrayal of what Alan Ryan stood for and they have been warned by senior dissident republican figures to stop dealing or face serious repercussions.

Alan Ryan was shot dead in September 2012 as he walked with a friend through an estate in Clongriffin, north Dublin.

90273353_90273353 IRA colour party at the funeral of Alan Ryan in 2012. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

He was known to gardaí for his links with dissident republican splinter groups. He was convicted in 2001 of taking part in a Real IRA training camp in Meath and also for firearms possession on another occasion.

He took part in protests against Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Ireland in 2011, specifically outside Dublin Castle on the day of the State dinner hosted by President Mary McAleese.

Alan’s brother Vinnie was shot dead in Finglas last year. He was also a member of the RIRA. A number of people have been arrested by gardaí over this murder.

Read: Steroids, growth hormones and erectile dysfunction pills worth €2 million seized in Donegal >

Read: Steroids: ‘I thought that the only way I could beat my addiction was to end my life’ >

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