Roscrea anti-drugs meeting draws crowd of more than 1,000

Teacher reads letter from mother threatened at knifepoint by recovering addict son

More than 1,000 people attended a heated public meeting in Roscrea tonight to highlight their concerns over the “scourge of drugs” that has hit the north Tipperary town.

The devastating affects of drugs and anti-social behaviour prompted a major community response in the market town.

Some 1,150 people signed into the public meeting at Coláiste Phobail last night, organised by local man Derek Russell, with many claiming their town had been failed by government at national level.

There have been a number of suicides in the town – home to more than 5,000 people – in recent years, some of which are believed to be drug-related.

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Teacher Tadhg Maher began the meeting by reading out a letter written by a mother who had been threatened at knifepoint by her 15-year-old son, a recovering drug addict. The letter, which was anonymous, described how the woman’s house has been “torn apart”.

A woman at the meeting demanded that the Minister for Justice attend the next public meeting, saying the people of Roscrea have “risen up at last”.

‘Reached their limit’

Dr Pauline De Feu, a GP in Roscrea for the past 32 years, said the people of the town “have reached their limit”.

“This is a human tragedy for the users and their families. It is glamorised in films and on television and with some celebrities. The tragedy and the pain rarely gets the same exposure and certainly has no glamour aspect that can command television and film audiences.”

Concerns that Roscrea’s garda station would not longer be open for 24-hours were addressed by Superintendent Bob Noonan who said there was no question of it closing at 6pm.

He said he has 37 years’ experience and “knows first-hand about the scourge of drugs”.

Supt Noonan dismissed as “total lies” rumours that a member of the force had been suspended for taking drugs, insisting this was “more than likely spread by the people we are taking about here tonight”.

Among the public representatives present were TDs for North Tipperary Noel Coonan (Fine Gael) and Michael Lowry (Independent) and Sinn Féin councillor David Doran.