Monday 18 December 2017

Tears of two mothers on RTE's Liveline as they tell of how they lost their sons to drugs

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David Kearns

Two grieving mothers who lost their sons to drug overdoses broke down on live radio and accused Ireland of dismissing drug-related deaths as 'one less scumbag' to worry about.

Having lost her son (22) three years ago to an overdose, heartbroken Antoinette said “the scourge of addiction” was a public health issue that the “Government and most people” did not care about tackling.

“If an animal fell down a ditch, you would throw a rope in and pull it out,” she told RTÉ’s Liveline earlier today.

“He hated being addicted to drugs, the guilt overwhelmed him. You’ll never meet a happy drug addict.

“But the Government doesn’t care. People are dying every day from addiction and they’re doing nothing.”

Read More: Heroin 'is now a major problem in Galway'

Unable to hold back tears, the grieving mother told broadcaster Joe Duffy: “He was a lovely boy, a lovely person. He loved me and his sister to pieces. He would give away his coat to someone he passed in the street who needed it.

“But he was trapped. He tried and he tried to break the addiction but he could never get away from it.

“He never stopped trying even up until the day he died.”

Read More: Minister's tour of 'shooting up' lanes strenghtens call for injecting centres

In a broadcast where even host Joe Duffy appeared to be emotional at times, Antoinette spoke about how her son overdosed on a deadly cocktail of valium and methadone while in rehab.

“He died just trying to get a good night’s sleep,” she said.

“He spent his life trying to get off heroin from the age of 15. He went from one rehab to another and always ended up back in the trap.

“It is the system, it doesn’t work because there is just this level of snobbery and looking down your nose at addicts.

“I took my son to one clinic and they would ask him how he was and he would say ‘he was fine’ but when I tried to intervene and tell them he was taking drugs, they would say they weren’t speaking to me but my son.

“If he said he was fine, he was fine, and that was good enough for them.”

Read More: Drugs driving crime rates with capital worst hit

Antoinette called in to tell her story in support of another mother who also lost her young son to drugs.

Mum-of-two Annette told Liveline that people in Ireland were “too willing” to dismiss and degrade those they suspected of being drug addicts.

She recounted witnessing two young men verbally assault a homeless man over the weekend, and said the sight had sparked memories of her own son (31) – who had lived on the streets before he passed away from a drug overdose.

“When did it become so acceptable to be so cruel to other people in Ireland,” she said.

“When did it become alight to abuse people by the side of the street?

“This poor man had done nothing to these people and yet they had no problem treating him worse than an animal.”

Read More: Man who left €5k of heroin street-deals in garda car 'bagged them in his mother's kitchen' - court

Annette said that she did not know if the man was a drug addict but that the scene was just an example of how Ireland treats those suffering addiction.

“The person who gave my child the drugs that killed him paid no price, the person who brought them into the country paid no price, [but] my son paid the price for his addiction with his life. That’s the bottom line.

“[And for] the Government, and many others out there, this just means one less scumbag on the street.

“That’s the reality. When we had money in this country we did nothing to tackle the drugs coming in.

“Even methadone just massages the numbers. It’s a band aid for an open wound.”

Read More: Fr Peter McVerry: 'A year from Jonathan Corrie's death, the homeless situation is now worse than ever'

Annette added that while there was sure to be those who thought her son was “a scumbag”, they only saw one side of him.

“He made an impact on my life in a good way and bad way, he was a lovely person,” she said.

“There are people out there who have nothing but good things to say about him.

“And I’m sure there are people out there who will say he was nothing but a scumbag.

“But he was my son before anything else, first and last. He was my baby.”

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