Two women who died in Co Offaly may have bought drugs online

Two others hospitalised as gardaí examine packaging found at homeless hostel

Gardaí say there has been a significant increase in the purchase of drugs from the internet in recent weeks as coronavirus shuts down more traditional ways of obtaining illicit substances. File photograph: iStock

Gardaí say there has been a significant increase in the purchase of drugs from the internet in recent weeks as coronavirus shuts down more traditional ways of obtaining illicit substances. File photograph: iStock

 

Gardaí investigating the death of two women in the midlands suspect they took a mixture of drugs, some of which was believed to have been purchased online.

One woman (44) died at a hostel facility in Tullamore, Co Offaly on Sunday and three others took ill quickly afterwards. A second woman in her late teens died yesterday and two others have been hospitalised – one in a critical condition last night.

Investigating gardaí are understood to be examining packaging found at the scene which may have contained the drugs. Gardaí say there has been a significant increase in the purchase of drugs from the internet in recent weeks as coronavirus shuts down more traditional ways of obtaining them. Difficulties in obtaining drugs have also led users to search for substitutes which they may not be used to, according to drug workers.

All four were known to each other and had been staying at the Clonamore House hostel in the town, which had been turned into emergency accommodation in recent years.

A local source said that one of the deceased women was from Co Laois and the other deceased was from Co Roscommon.

In a statement, gardaí confirmed officers were called to the premises on Sunday where a 44-year-old woman was in an unresponsive condition. She was pronounced dead at the scene and her body was removed to Tullamore Hospital for a postmortem examination.

Not Covid-related Yesterday

, emergency services were called to the hostel to treat a woman aged in her late teens. She was also pronounced dead at the scene and removed to hospital.

While the second woman was receiving attention at the hostel, a 23-year-old man became unresponsive and was rushed to hospital. His condition is understood to be critical. Another man, aged 32, who had become concerned, attended hospital and his condition is described as non-life threatening.

A local source said when news of the deaths arose many in the community assumed it was an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, but authorities moved to play this down ahead of postmortem results.

“Gardaí are liaising with the HSE and CADS [Community Alcohol and Drug Service], a local community alcohol and drugs support group [in Athlone], in relation to the case,” the Garda said in a statement.

Gardaí are separately investigating the death of a third person in a different hostel in the midlands in the past seven days, but a spokesman said this was unconnected to the incident in Tullamore.