Gardaí examining ecstasy link in deaths

PSNI has also warned of ecstasy-style pill linked to eight deaths in Northern Ireland

Security sources said while there was no clear link between the deaths in Dublin and Wicklow and those in Belfast, different types of ecstasy had been linked to all 10 fatalities. Photograph: David Sleator

Security sources said while there was no clear link between the deaths in Dublin and Wicklow and those in Belfast, different types of ecstasy had been linked to all 10 fatalities. Photograph: David Sleator

 


Gardaí are investigating two deaths thought to be related to the drug ecstasy at the same time the PSNI has warned drug takers in Belfast of the dangers of an ecstasy-style pill linked to eight deaths there.

Security sources said while there was no clear link between the deaths in Dublin and Wicklow and those in Belfast, different types of ecstasy had been linked to all 10 fatalities.

Garda sources said the drug was growing in popularity in the Republic again, with more ecstasy seized in Dublin and Cork in a two-month period this year than in all of 2010 and 2011 combined.

A 29-year-old woman from Dublin died in St James’s Hospital on Tuesday, three days after falling ill in a pub in the south inner city. A 19-year-old man died after taking ecstasy in Co Wicklow last week.

Garda sources say while the precise make-up of the drugs consumed by both victims was unknown, both cases are being treated as ecstasy deaths.


Deaths in North
At the weekend the PSNI confirmed it was investigating seven sudden deaths in the greater Belfast area and one in the northwest. It said while the deaths of the victims in their 20s and 30s could not yet be conclusively linked to drug taking, it warned people not to consume illegal drugs and to particularly stay away from green pills with a crown-on-castle logo.

While figures for drug-related deaths in the State are not yet available for last year or so far in 2013, the Health Research Board has warned of an increase in deaths linked to synthetic drugs including ecstasy and similar stimulants previously sold in head shops but banned since 2010.


Re-emergence of drug
“There would appear to be a re-emergence of true ecstasy in 2012 and 2013 in Ireland, ” the board said in a statement. This has been noted by actors in the early warning system.”

The research board added: “There are a number of deaths with ecstasy in their blood or body fluids, but this does not mean that these drugs caused their deaths. We do not have reliable data on the number of ecstasy deaths in 2012 and 2013 as the coroners have not determined the cause of death for all cases.”

Despite the anecdotal evidence suggesting an increase in ecstasy and synthetic drug-related deaths, the level of consumption of products previously sold in head shops had decreased since those products were banned by the introduction in legislation in 2010.

A decade ago in the State, seizures of ecstasy – MDMA – reached up to €10 million annually. As the quality of the drug deteriorated and cocaine became more widely available in the economic boom years, the popularity of ecstasy waned with seizures down to €351,088 in 2009. However, in 2011 that figure had rebounded to €900,000 .