Friday 13 December 2019

From flower shop to dealer of legal highs in just 24 hours

Suburb is going to prove to head shop that its 'daze' are numbered, writes Siobhan O'Connor

From flower shop to 'head shop' in 24 hours, is this weird or what? A flower shop closed down on Dublin's Clontarf Road last week and popped back up as something more unsavoury but just as legal.

Clontarf residents are outraged that a head shop has sprouted up before their eyes in a matter of what seems like hours. The D3 Head Shop is open for business and it's here to stay unless we do something about it.

Either the Government regulates soft drugs properly or the legal highs phenomenon is going to grab them by the balls.

It's an outrage that the powers that be are going to wait until June to shut these shops down whilst kids get addicted to these legal highs, masquerading as plant food.

The Government needs to admit they know the stuff head shops sell is meant for human consumption. We can't bury our heads in the sand over this and Clontarf residents intend to get the ball rolling by shutting down this one particular shop.

There are over 100 head shops operating in Ireland; we have the highest concentration of them in Europe. The majority of these have opened in the last 18 months. I am a local in Clontarf and was horrified when the D3 Head Shop opened. This is suburbia.

The head shop craze has been sweeping the city centre, but if these businesses start popping up near schools in every suburban locale, we're in for trouble.

When I heard about the D3 Head Shop, I went in to chat to the girl working there. A non-Irish national, she seemed extremely upset. When she arrived into work to sell her daffodils she was informed that she would now be selling something called 'The Dog's Bollox' instead.

When I asked her if she was worried for her safety she said, "Yes, but I need this job. My boyfriend lost his."

The variety of 'plant food' on sale includes items like 'Doves 5 pack', 'Lime Fantasy', 'Smoke XXX' and 'Sky High Blue' -- all with brightly-coloured packages enticing teenagers with the following warning on the back: "Use one capsule per potted plant, do not exceed unless using on larger plants."

Clontarf is a very tight-knit parish with innate family values, good schools and we pride ourselves on our strong community, like many suburbs in Ireland. We want this shop shut down.

'Ban headshops now', 'No headshops here', 'Your daze are over', were just some of the placards being held by residents during a midday protest yesterday.

Local councillor Aodhan O'Riordain (Labour) organised the gathering on the seafront and hundreds gathered to vent people's disgust.

"The reaction from parents has been remarkable. We've sent out a strong message. We're here because we're against head shops in general. We're against what they sell. We're against what they're trying to promote," he said.

He hopes with continual protesting the proprietor of the shop will close it down. "There's a legalistic vacuum over head shops. The Government has to fill that vacuum with legislation and we have to fill that vacuum with peaceful protest," he added.

Broadcaster Gerry Ryan is Clontarf-born and bred. He asserted: "People have the right to peaceful protest if something comes into their community that threatens them or the lives of their children."

Situated within walking distance from the hotspot Bar Code, what better way to entice young students keen to party all night. You can buy your chips in La Costa, but why not head next door and keep your night alive with legal highs.

Councillor Nial Ring (independent) thinks it's a disgrace: "In the inner city we have 15 of these head shops and they've caused absolute chaos. They've caused health problems, mental problems with kids, it's a disaster. It's moving out into the suburbs now.

"The legislators have to do something about it and they have to do it now. We don't want legislation in June.

"If they're giving themselves the pay increase, they can do it overnight. We want leadership in this country. We don't want procrastination whilst our kids' health is put in danger. Two kids died in Sunderland from ephedrine. The stuff should be banned. There have now been calls for principals to be allowed to search schoolbags in a bid to prevent legal highs entering schools."

Joan Daly, a Clontarf mother feels for her children: "We just don't want this shop here, it brings in a lot of undesirables. We want it closed down . . . Everyone is now living in fear."

Sunday Independent

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