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File photo dated 28 December, 2008, of a heroin addict before injecting heroin in the town of Portlaoise, Co Laois. Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Drug conference: gang violence could spread across Ireland in five years

Conference hears drug problem is much worse than suggested in the media, with families being threatened and attacked because of debts to drug dealers.

A CONFERENCE ON DRUG USE in Ireland has heard that gang violence could spread across the country within five years if a greater effort to tackle drug barons is not made.

Susan Collins of Addiction Response Crumlin (ARC) said that the drug problem is much worse than the media suggests.

She told the conference attended by over 100 drug workers:

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.

The Irish Examiner reports that Collins called on communities to stand up to drug barons because “gardaí can’t be everywhere”. She said: “Communities all have to stand up”, but clarified that she was not referring to vigilantism.

Her colleague Jimmy Norman said ARC was dealing with 11- and 12-year-olds who had taken drugs.

The Family Support Network’s Megan O’Leary told the conference that research published by the organisation in June 2009 showed that families were suffering attacks and assaults because of debts their children or siblings owed to drug dealers.

Last month, Ireland’s largest drug treatment charity Merchants Quay said that the number of people in Ireland seeking treatment for heroin addiction has now reached a record high.

MQI director Tony Geoghegan appealed for the group’s funding not to be cut any further, saying that the drug problem was “fundamentally about reducing human misery”, and should not be “reduced to economics”.

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