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15 May 2003 Edition

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Drug dealers threaten residents

Drug dealers and thugs are making life hell for residents of the Springfarm estate in Antrim.

On the night of Friday 9 May, around 12.30am, two petrol bombs were thrown at a house on Barra Street as a bitter dispute between local drug dealers and residents intensified.

The devices were thrown at one of the family's bedroom windows and left scorch damage. There were five children in the house at the time, ranging in age from 8 to 16 years. Fortunately, all the occupants were unharmed.

A group of youths chased from the area by neighbours threw more petrol bombs at pursuing residents.

Community worker Seamus Davis stated the victim of the attack had been targeted because he had objected to drugs being sold.

"This man spoke out against these people coming into the area and this has been the response," said Davis. "There were kids in that house and they all could have been burnt to death."

The attack is only the latest in a long list of intimidation, threats and violence directed at residents by hoods and drug dealers who have relocated to the neighbourhood. Some of the more serious incidents have seen locals clashing with armed thugs in the streets.

"Young people - even under the age of twelve - are being targeted by these dealers," said Davis. "We have also seen an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour often associated with this vile trade. People are living in fear."

Sinn Féin's Martin Meehan also voiced his concern about the rapid growth of the drug scene in Antrim and the escallating violence in the estate.

"I've been given reports of drug dealing, of fist fights, and of people chasing others with hatchets," said Meehan. "This is very disturbing news.

"I've been in touch with the Housing Executive and I've impressed on them how important it is for the community to have a say on the sort of people being given homes here in Antrim. Something is going seriously wrong if notorious figures are given houses in a settled area."
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An Phoblacht
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