Alleged dealers are named at city anti drugs protest


THERE was little sign of Operation Dochas - the Garda initiative against drug dealing in Dublin - as the latest anti drug protest march got under way in Dublin last night. The march was preceded by a public meeting at which 26 alleged dealers were named. People who protested that some of those named were not dealing drugs were quickly silenced.

About 500 attended the meeting at Laurence's Church in Sheriff Street. The organising committee, sitting on the altar, produced 26 white envelopes in a plastic container. Mr Gerry Fay said residents had submitted "hundreds" of envelopes with names of dealers, and these were the 26 that cropped up most often.

He asked people to come up the aisles, open one envelope each and read out the name inside.

After the names were read a woman addressed the crowd. "I have a son, his name was mentioned tonight, and he stopped selling a while ago," she said.

A man said his son had just been named. "I'm asking you not to march on my home. I'll make sure my son doesn't do drugs."

Others tried to make similar arguments but were shouted down. At this point Mr Ronnie Byrne, of Dolphin's Barn and the Coalition of Communities Against Drugs (COCAD), addressed the meeting. He said he was used to hearing "sob stories" from dealers' relatives. He suggested an immediate march to the homes of the "top five" dealers on the list of 26. The crowd agreed.

The homes were all near the church and the march lasted about an hour. Only one house was occupied - a man came out of the front door to stare at the crowd gathered outside, calling his name and shouting "pushers out!". Then he went inside again. A handful of gardai stood around watching.

Asked if he had any concerns about the way the event had progressed, the local Labour TD, Mr Joe Costello, said the meeting and march were a last resort and "the equivalent of jury by community." Such events would end only when gardai moved against dealers and showed they were seriously determined to do their duty".