A packed house in the Cornmill Centre, Coalisland during the public meeting dealing with issues involving drugs in the area INTT1312-172JS
THE COALISLAND community have turned out in force at a public meeting in order to send a strong message to drug dealers: You are not welcome in our town!
Organisers of the event, which took place on Thursday night in the Cornmill Heritage Centre, say they have been overwhelmed at the number of people who showed up to demand more action from the police to rid the streets of illegal substances.
The Tyrone Times exclusively revealed recently how dealers in Coalisland were routinely handing out free drugs, including types which are more addictive than heroin, to children as young as 13.
More than 200 people attended Thursday night’s public meeting, including representatives from local churches, youth groups and sporting organisations, with Claire Carleton from the charity Opportunity Youth present to provide information on types of drugs and symptoms which may indicate the use of such illegal substances.
One distressed local woman even told how she had “effectively lost” her son to the scourge of drugs, while others claimed police were lacking in their response to calls about suspected drug dealing in public areas.
Mid Ulster Assembly Member, Michelle O’Neill, attended the meeting along with Coalisland Councillor, Padraig Quinn, and told the Times people from the community were determined to find a solution to the ongoing drugs problem in the town.
“The strongest message that came out of that room on Thursday night was that 200 or more people felt strongly enough about what is happening in their town to come to a public meeting”, said Mrs O’Neill.
“But we need to do a whole lot more to tackle this problem. The strength of feeling at that meeting should send a strong message to the drug dealers in our town. They are not welcome, and there should be no place in our society for drug dealers to live comfortably.”
Michelle O’Neill said the problem facing the Coalisland community was a “collective” one, which required everyone to take responsibility for tackling the issue.
“We need to look at the policing element, what is being done to police the town and deal with the drug dealers”, she continued.
“It is very evident that people feel not enough is being done by the police. People at the meeting spoke about making reports about drugs being dealt on the streets and nothing being done, so we need more action and tougher sentences for those who are caught.
“We also need services for people who find themselves addicted to drugs, because those people are victims in all of this.
“This meeting was a first step in tackling the problem. We have a lot more to do. People want a meeting with police to talk about their role, and we plan to have a dedicated meeting for young people to speak about the issues.
“Parish Priest, Fr Paul Byrne, also plans to hold a meeting in St Patrick’s Hall this Friday night, March 30, which will be another opportunity for people to come together and speak about the problem.”
Cllr Padraig Quinn, meanwhile, encouraged anyone who would like to help organise efforts to tackle the problem of drugs within the community, to contact him directly.
He added: “A lot of people contributed to the debate, there were many suggestions and stories shared and we now have a platform on which to build. The underlining point of the night was that this problem affects everyone, not just an unlucky few.
“There are many aspects that we need to take into consideration when attempting to tackle the drug problem, but above all else, it is vital that we come together as a community and that we don’t simply ask what someone else is doing to help, but ask, what can I do to help? We need to work to secure a drug free future for our town.”
Details of future meetings will be made available to the local press in due course.
Cllr Padraig Quinn can be contacted on 07834 592 880.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : Tyrone Times
- The 20 Richest Drug Dealers of All Time (celebritynetworth.com)
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- Whitney Houston and Daughter Bobbi Kristina Share Drug Dealer (celebs.gather.com)
- Schoolgirl, 10, takes cocaine in playground after finding drug dealer’s stash in Pringles tube (dailymail.co.uk)