'Drug dealers threatened to kill my son for €30 debt' - Mother speaks about intimidation her family suffered from local rural gang
A woman has spoken of the intimidation her family received from a local rural gang after her son failed to pay a €30 drug debt.
Mary, from Youghal, Cork, spoke of the horror she felt when, one evening, she found her son crying in the sitting room of her home saying, "they will kill me for €30."
Her son owed a local gang €30 for hash and the dealers threatened his life when he failed to make payment.
"They got his best friend to show them where our son lived," Mary told RTE's Liveline.
At the time, Mary and her husband, were not in a position to pay the money owed.
"We had a mortgage to pay and then €30 became €60... and so on," she explained.
On the night the dealers called to her home, they threatened to "break every window" of her house and car.
They said: "We now know where he lives and we will be back."
"My husband wasn't able to cope... it was terrifying," she said
Both parents eventually managed to get the money together to pay the debt to save their son's life and arranged to meet the dealers to end the torment.
"They gave us chase all day around town - they were afraid that we'd informed the gardai. It was four to six hours of waiting and pacing," she said.
Mary's story comes on the back of the report from the CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign whose research showed that "mothers of drug users make up a third of those targeted by dealers and gangs".
It said that half of the incidents of intimidation involved beatings and violence and almost a third involved damage to homes or property.
Criminologist John Connolly, who helped compile the report, described the intimidation as a hidden harm which causes immense distress in many communities.
"It is, in a sense, not on the general public radar but very much part of life for many," he said.
"Even where offenders might be prosecuted or even imprisoned, this does not alleviate the fear for most people.
"There does not appear to be any safety net that can reassure people in such circumstances. This poses a major challenge for the criminal justice system and society in general."