20 November 1997 Edition

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Newry confronts drug dealers

A new campaign against Newry drug dealers got off to an angry and emotional start in the centre of the town last Saturday. A large anti-drugs rally heard the mother of a murder victim break down as she said, ``I wouldn't like to see any other family going through what we are going through today.''

Una Hart's 20 year old daughter Belinda was killed by a shotgun blast in a flat in the town's North Street two weeks ago

The rally also heard from Sinn Féin Councillors Brendan Curran and Davy Hyland. Both have been outspoken against the drug dealers and their lives have been threatened in recent months. Brendan Curran's home has been attacked and he and his family have been threatened on the street. His brother was injured when he was struck by a lump of granite thrown through his front window. One drug dealer has twice driven a car at Davy Hyland as he cycled through the town.

The same dealer has used violence to carve out his empire in Newry, a nationalist town which has a growing reputation for drug use. He broke the legs and arms of a rival and left him outside the back door of one of his (the rival's) sellers. He then told the seller that he would have to work for him or he would get the same. The rival is now out of hospital and living in a largely loyalist town in South Down.

A number of major dealers live in or near Newry. The main supplier gets his drugs from a criminal gang in Dublin and is part of a supply line to former IPLO members in Belfast and to the LVF in mid-Ulster.

Paddy Farrell, who was shot dead a few months ago by his mistress in Drogheda, was a multi-millionaire drug dealer who lived in a large house on Newry's Dublin Road. His associates are currently trying to continue his activities.

Three other major dealers live comfortable lives in villages close to Newry.

Davy Hyland asked the crowd at Saturday's rally if they wanted Newry to resemble Dublin where there are more than 8,000 heroin addicts on the streets. When he was answered with a resounding ``No!'' he told the crowd that they had to organise in the same way that the people of Dublin had and drive the dealers from their midst.

Brendan Curran attacked the RUC for their lack of interest in the drug problem. ``The RUC attacked us when we made it known that there was a drug problem in this town. They are only interested in recruiting drug dealers to spy on republicans.'' He said that local people must ostracise the dealers and unite in every way to organise against them.

A public meeting will be held in Newry on 8 December to elect a committe to to fight the drug problem in the town.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1