Community has 'reached limit' as drugs scourge ruins young lives
MORE than 1,000 people have attended a heated public meeting in Roscrea to highlight their concerns over the "scourge of drugs" that has hit the north Tipperary town.
Concerned residents blame the emerging drugs culture for the loss of many young lives in recent years.
Dr Pauline De Feu, a GP in Roscrea for the past 32 years, said the local community "have reached their limit".
She said: "This is a human tragedy for the users and their families. It is glamourised in films and on television and with some celebrities. The tragedy and the pain rarely get the same exposure and certainly have no glamour aspect that can command television and film audiences."
Residents packed the main hall of Colaiste Phobal, Roscrea, for the meeting, which was organised by local man Derek Russell. Some 1,150 people signed into the public meeting which was also attended by gardai and a number of public representatives.
Local schoolteacher Tadhg Maher began by reading out a letter written by a mother who had been threatened at knifepoint by her 15-year-old son, a recovering drug addict.
The letter which was sent in anonymously described how the woman's family has been "torn apart".
"On Mother's Day this year my 15-year-old son attempted suicide and was put in residential care," the mother wrote.
"I have been through hell and back for the past two years to get help for his addiction. He stole from me and threatened me with a knife and a hammer for four hours for money. I have paid all his debts."
One woman at the meeting demanded that the Minister for Justice attend the next public meeting, insisting that the people of Roscrea had "risen up at last".
"If I was a drug dealer I wouldn't be resting too easy in my bed with the turnout that has come here tonight. We don't want them resting in their beds – we want them out of this town and out of this county," warned local Sinn Fein councillor David Doran.
Joan Teehan, a grandmother of three, said too many young people in the town had died in tragic circumstances.
Concerns over the possible closure of Roscrea as a 24-hour garda station were addressed by Superintendent Bob Noonan who insisted there was no question of the station closing at 6pm.
Supt Noonan said he had 37 years' experience and "knows first-hand about the scourge of drugs".
"We will continue to do our best. The hardworking gardai that are in Roscrea have been dealing with this," he revealed.
Like many towns in rural Ireland, Roscrea, which is home to 5,000 people, has been hit by large-scale unemployment in recent years.
Tragically, there has also been a number of suicides in the town in recent years, some of which are believed to be drug-related.