Saturday 23 March 2019

'He believed in his right to protect the community' - John 'Whacker' Humphrey, founder of CPAD, dies

John 'Whacker' Humphrey Photo: Rip.ie
John 'Whacker' Humphrey Photo: Rip.ie
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

One of the founding members of the controversial group which directly targeted drug pushers in the 1980s and 90s has died.

John 'Whacker' Humphrey, a flower seller from Crumlin, passed away at the weekend after a long illness.

He was one of the founder members of the Concerned Parents Against Drugs (CPAD) which took to streets as Dublin and communities in other parts of the country were gripped by heroin in the 1980s.

The group campaigned for treatment facilities for addicts, and controversially marched to the homes of alleged drug dealers and forced many out of them out.

But the group soon drew criticism and was accused of being an unregulated group of politicised vigilantes that failed to distinguish between pushers and addicts and took the law into its own hands in its activities.

Humphrey would later spend 18 months in Portlaoise Prison after being tried in the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Sinn Fein was closely associated with the CPAD in some areas, and there was friction when it was seen to be challenging the authority of the gardai.

But others praised CPAD for trying to tackle the drugs problem while the State was playing catch-up with the problem.

The father of six, and grandfather of four, died peacefully at home surrounded by family in Crumlin on Friday.

Paying tribute to him, fellow CPAD founder and councillor Christy Burke said Whacker Humphrey was a man who was “a committed family man, a hard worker, and a man who dedicated his life as an advocate for the community”.

“He was a founder member of CPAD in 1982. He lived in St Theresa's Gardens where he saw the heroin epidemic, and he approached me and Jesuit priest Fr Jim Smyth, who lived in the Hardwicke Street area, to come together with him,” said Cllr Burke.

“There were no treatment facilities, and he gave part of his life to getting rehab beds set up. He believed in his rights to protect the community,” he added.

“The State failed to address the misery inflicted on the young people, and John Humphrey was trying to find supports for those young people,” he explained.

“I saw John last Monday. He sent for me, to say goodbye. I thanked him for his friendship and his commitment. I told him his 18 months in Portlaoise took courage. He became a close friend,” said Mr Burke.

“It was a pleasure and an honour to know him, and he has a special place in my heart,” he added.

John Humphrey’s remains will be removed  to St Theresa's Church, Donore Avenue on Friday, arriving for 12 noon Mass, followed by burial at Mount Jerome Cemetery.

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