Friday 22 March 2019

Activist who targeted heroin dealers in 1980s passes away

Campaigner: John Humphrey fought to get rehab beds set up
Campaigner: John Humphrey fought to get rehab beds set up
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

One of the founding members of the controversial group which targeted drug pushers in the 1980s 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.

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

But the group soon drew criticism. It 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.

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

Sinn Féin was closely associated with the CPAD in some areas and there was friction when it was seen to be challenging Garda authority.

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

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

Paying tribute to him, fellow CPAD founder and councillor Christy Burke said that '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.

"There were no treatment facilities and he gave part of his life to getting rehab beds set up.

"He believed in his right to protect the community.

"The State failed to address the misery inflicted on the young people and John Humphrey was trying to find supports for those young people," Mr Burke added.

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

Irish Independent

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