Another drug death

By Staff Reporter

THE death of 42-year-old Gerard Mulholland is another grim reminder of the devastating toll that drugs are taking on society. And it’s a reminder, too, that it is not just the young and impressionable who are at risk from the lethal substances being sold by ruthless and unscrupulous dealers.

There has been much speculation about where exactly this latest batch of killer pills came from, but important as it is for the suppliers to be caught and jailed and for the supply chain to be cut off, it is vital that a strong and clear message is sent out to all those of whatever age considering taking ‘recreational drugs’ over the party season, or indeed at any time of  the year. And that message is that ingesting an unknown substance of uncertain derivation is an incredibly risky and dangerous thing to do.

In the rush to assign strange and exotic names to the killer pills – ‘speckled Rolex’ or ‘green Rolex’, for instance – there is a danger that a perception might take hold that pills not of a certain colour or not bearing a certain stamp might be less dangerous, or even safe. That cannot be allowed to happen. It is of the utmost importance that it is widely understood that to swallow any pills passed round at parties is to play Russian roulette with your life.

There are doubtless people out there with knowledge of where this latest batch of deadly pills came from – perhaps they bought some themselves and escaped with their lives, perhaps they know someone else who did. However they came by such information, it is crucial that they pass it on to whomever they feel comfortable with – the police, community or political reps, the clergy. Because it is only when all those profiting from this deadly trade – from the street-level pusher to the faceless barons in the background – are identified and brought to book that this continuing threat to life can be, if not eradicated forever, then at least substantially reduced.

Ultimately, it is the job of the police to process and act on such information. We report today that the so-called Irish Volunteers have promised to kill those responsible for putting these deadly pills into circulation. They have told us that they will not target the low-level pushers, rather they will find and shoot to death those involved higher up the chain.

It’s a twisted kind of logic that argues that those responsible for killing people with lethal pills deserve to be killed with guns. For decades we argued that the killing and maiming of alleged criminals was first of all a morally corrupt policy, even at a time when the RUC was nothing more than an armed unionist militia and this community was effectively left unpoliced. We argued too that it had absolutely no effect on crime levels and in fact only added to the problems that it claimed to address. That remains the case, particularly at a time when the RUC is no more and the majority in this community have bought into the policing structures.

So, just as virtually no-one wants these micro-groups to continue their pointless and self-defeating gun and bomb attacks, virtually no-one wants to see them set themselves up as some sort of paramilitary star chamber, investing upon themselves the right to decide who lives and who dies.

Away from the policing work involved in addressing this criminal scourge, there’s a vital job of education to be done to force people to face the chilling reality that taking pills is an absurdly dangerous thing to do. That work needs to be carried on at home and school level, of course, but because this week we have been confronted with the stark truth that the tragedy of early death by lethal drugs visits not just the young and impressionable, that work of getting the facts across needs to be carried on at a community level too.

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