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Increase in narcotics abuse is causing much concern locally

Graffiti drug warning appears in Sandy Row

By Scott Jamison

Graffiti  in a South Belfast community threatening drug dealers is “proof people have had enough” of pushers, a local representative has said.

Jackie McDonald said the graffiti – which reads ‘drug dealers are not wanted in our community’ and which went up in Sandy Row last week – came on the back of a growth in drug abuse in the area, with young people increasingly turning to criminality to fund their habits.

However, he said people concerned about the drug dealing in the community were not sure where young people were getting the drugs from.

“There is a lot of worry from parents and others and the suspicion is that the drugs are coming from outside the area into Sandy Row,” he said. “That could be from kids meeting someone in the bus station or going to the Ormeau Road for them, we’re not sure.

“Once they access them, they bring them back into Sandy Row and they are made widely available. That is not acceptable to the people of Sandy Row and neither is these kids opening using drugs in the area, which is what is happening.”

Jackie added that one of the main reasons behind the increase in drug abuse locally was “a sense of apathy” among young people.

“There is no sense of identity or belonging. That’s not just in Sandy Row but in many areas. Until we get a better standard of education to give hope to these kids through jobs, that will not change.

“We need to look at these kids and get them to respect themselves. We need to get that feeling back into our community and have a normal way of life again because otherwise this will continue.”

He said there had even been pressure from some local parents for loyalist paramilitaries to deal with the growing situation.

“Some people have been calling for the paramilitaries to do something about this and deal with the drug dealers.

“That is a natural reaction when it comes to something as emotional as this, but it is not something that can be done.

“There is too much good happening here – we are working with the authorities to try and do the right things in order to create an infrastructure in Sandy Row which everyone can benefit from.

“To go back down that road for the sake of a few hoodlums and drug dealers would be the wrong thing to do.”


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