FG calls for random drug searches

Mon, Dec 10, 2007, 00:00

Gardaí should run random drugs searches outside pubs and nightclubs to stamp out escalating cocaine use, Fine Gael said today.

Targeting pubs and clubs will "clamp down on the fast-growing popularity of cocaine and counter the widespread perception that cocaine is an acceptable drug," said the party's justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan.

Pubs and nightclubs must be aware of their responsibilities to prevent illegal drugs being consumed on their premises. If traces of cocaine are found at a venue then the owner should expect serious consequences
Charlie Flanagan, Fine Gael

Mr Flanagan was speaking ahead of tonight's Prime Time Investigatesdocumentary on RTÉ, which examines cocaine use in Ireland.

He said "cocaine users must be made to realise they will be subject to the full rigour of the law if they use the drug".

Director of Crosscare Drugs Awareness Programme, Chris Murphy told ireland.com today that he agreed with Mr Flanagan's comments but said that some punishments may not deter serious cocaine users.

"Cocaine is a social drug and people use it in pursuit of a high or euphoric feeling. People who have gone beyond experimental use can't kick the addiction on their own, they must get help from other people.

"It [random drug searches] is one thing that will help among many, when a whole lot of approaches are taken it could be more effective," he said adding that education on the drug and its effects needed to be intensified.

"I don't think imprisonment is helpful, it doesn't put cocaine-users off the drug in fact it would make it worse rather than better. Community service would be a better punishment."

The RTÉ documentary will reveal that traces of cocaine were found on the premises of 92% of the 296 pubs and nightclubs that were surveyed.

Mr Flanagan's comments come after three deaths this month which have been linked to cocaine.

Model Katy French (24) died in hospital last Thursday after taking cocaine at a friend's house in Kilmessan, Co Meath. Her funeral will take place today in Co Wicklow.

In Co Waterford, fifteen people were hospitalised after allegedly taking drugs at a house party.

Thirteen recovered but after falling into comas, Kevin Doyle (21) and John Grey (23) lost their battle for life.

It is believed that an estimated 75,000 people are using cocaine in Ireland, Mr Flanagan said

"It is time to drive home the message that this illegal activity will not be tolerated.

"Pubs and nightclubs must be aware of their responsibilities to prevent illegal drugs being consumed on their premises. If traces of cocaine are found at a venue then the owner should expect serious consequences."