Monday 16 September 2019

Minister would 'report college drug dealers to gardaí'

Mary Mitchell O’Connor has set up a ‘rapid review’ into drugs being sold in colleges. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Mary Mitchell O’Connor has set up a ‘rapid review’ into drugs being sold in colleges. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Niamh Lynch

Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has said she would report those dealing drugs in colleges to gardaí.

She told the 'Sunday Independent' there was a "laissez-faire attitude" to drug dealing in colleges.

"I'm not talking about smoking weed, for instance. I'm talking about MDMA, ecstasy. They'll pop one, then they'll pop two or three and there are tragic consequences," she said.

"I've attended some students' funerals and, as a mother and a TD, it really concerns me.

"You don't expect in a higher education institution that there would be drugs freely available, but I have heard about drugs being sold within colleges.

"The last funeral I was at, I walked toward them to sympathise with them and the father and mother asked me to do something about the issue.

"Another mother wrote to me from Tipperary and said they wouldn't want anyone else to die."

Asked if she had a college-aged child who was taking drugs whether she would go to gardaí, she replied: "I would go to gardaí if I knew who was dealing drugs in that college.

"This is not about criminalising students who take drugs. It is about solving a problem.

"We've set up a rapid review.

"There are psychiatrists, students leaders and representatives from the parents' council that will help form a roadmap of what we need to do for higher education institutions."

Meanwhile, the parents of Jack Downey (19), who died after taking a substance, believed to be MDMA, at a music festival in Cork two weeks ago, said their son had been "destroyed" by the drug.

His mother Elaine said: "Many young people today are different from how our lives used to be. They want a buzz. Many of them are sensible, educated, bright young people with great futures.

"But all it takes is one big mistake and the results are awful and horrendous.

"We can't let what happened to Jack happen to any other boy or girl. People have to stand up and speak. The young need to look out for each other.

"We are all too casual about what is going on among young people in Ireland," she added.

Ms Downey said she and her husband Johnny were "duty-bound" to let Jack's friends see him in his hospital bed as he lay dying so they witnessed for themselves the harm illegal drugs can do.

"They all saw Jack tubed up and wired up.

"There was a shock factor," said Mr Downey.

In the past number of weeks, at least two young people have died after taking illegal drugs.

Irish Independent

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