13 June 1997 Edition

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Pushers told `get out'

DRUG PUSHERS IN NORTH BELFAST TARGETING children as young as nine have been told to get out by angry parents.

In the latest demonstration of people power residents from the Oldpark/Cliftonville Road area of Belfast have come on to the streets to tell pushers to ``get off our backs''.

Speaking to An Phoblacht community leader Anthony Barnes said that the situation came to a head when last week a father found his 11 year old son with an Ecstasy tablet. ``The boy had the tablet broken into four and told his parents he was going to sell it on. The pushers are encouraging young kids to sell the drugs on,'' maintained Barnes. He said the pushers have also been giving drugs to children ``to get them hooked''.

Since Thursday last when concerned parents took to the streets to confront pushers hundreds of residents from the Oldpark and Cliftonville Road area have been taking part in silent pickets.

``The pushers are using this area of wasteground to push the drugs and on two nights last week we counted hundreds of punters coming around. The RUC watched the dealers on one of those nights and did nothing. They are not interested in sorting this problem out. That is why the people have come out themselves,'' Barnes said.

The area of wasteground used by the dealers is under constant surveillance from Girdwood British Army barracks, reinforcing local people's view that the RUC is not interested in taking action against the dealers.

Despite the community response the dealers are determined to guard what they see as their patch and some residents have been confronted by pushers carrying cudgels and iron bars.

``We want to stop this before it is too late and a child loses its life,'' Barnes said.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1