We don't have the resources to chase all minor celebrities taking drugs -- gardai
Published 21/12/2010 | 05:00
DEVELOPERS, accountants, builders, solicitors, and celebrities.
The top echelons of society are the ones who use rehab centres most frequently, often because they're the only ones who can afford the €16,000-plus cost of a month's treatment.
And yet their names are never heard in court.
In fact, it has been over 20 years since a high-profile celebrity appeared in the Irish courts on drugs charges.
Many U2 fans are too young to remember that bass guitarist Adam Clayton appeared in court in August 1989 after being charged with possessing marijuana and with having the drug with the intent to supply.
The then 29-year-old had been found with 19 grams of cannabis in the boot of his car, which his solicitor told the court had been given to him as a present. He escaped conviction after agreeing to pay IR£25,000 to Dublin's Women's Aid and Refuge Centre, a huge sum at the time.
His court appearance made headlines around the world -- but in recent years the only misdemeanours that have brought well-known faces before the courts have been drink-driving cases.
If "the dogs in the street" knows that drugs are being sold and snorted in many nightclubs, why are gardai not dragging the users to court by their designer lapels?
"Because they haven't been caught," is the blunt answer from garda sources.
They argue that they simply cannot go after every drug user, regardless of their status. It is estimated there are in excess of 10,000 heroin users in Dublin alone -- but if they were all arrested where would they all go?
Gardai say that although the users are committing a crime, it's the dealers that they are most interested in.
"If we take out the dealers, we take out most of the problem," said one senior garda. "We just don't have the resources to follow every minor celebrity that 'might' be taking drugs."
The Irish cocaine problem has been exacerbated in recent years by a flood of the drug coming on to the market. As crime gangs cottoned on to just how much profit was up for grabs, prices dropped as a low as €30 per gram.
The low cost made it a massive new problem for gardai.