Posters warning against drug dealing appear in Sandy Row

By Paul Ainsworth

POSTERS threatening drug dealers in Sandy Row are an indication the community has “had enough” of young people being targeted by pushers, it has been claimed.

The posters which appeared in the loyalist Sandy Row and neighbouring Donegall Road area over the weekend, read: ‘Warning – anyone caught dealing drugs in Sandy Row will be put out!’

UDA chief and community representative Jackie McDonald told the South Belfast News that young people in the area were already suffering from low self-esteem and a lack of direction, which was being taken advantage of by those trying to push often addictive substances.

“With these posters it looks like people here have had enough,” he said.

“Sandy Row has suffered over the decades from all sorts of attacks, but now the problem really is the fact that many young people in the area have no direction and sadly are turning to drink and drugs. As a result, there are some people who would take advantage by selling these substances and the community have just had enough.

“We need to continue to build a rapport with our youth, working with local authorities to offer them the best chance in life and turn them away from the dangers of things like drugs.”

Meanwhile, local councillor Bob Stoker, who also works at the South City Resource and Development Centre, said the PSNI should be the first port of call for anyone suspecting drug dealing in the area.

“It looks like someone has taken it upon themselves to issue threats, when it should be the police tackling dealers” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that the area has a major problem with drugs among young people, certainly not compared to any other areas. However, we need to get to the situation where young people are comfortable reporting dealers to the police, or if they have problems with drugs themselves, one of the local community organisations with trained staff who offer advice and counselling.”

A PSNI spokesman urged anyone with information on drug dealing to come forward, adding: “The PSNI does not tolerate any type of vigilante activity and we would caution any individual or group against taking the law into their own hands. Those who do, may themselves commit offences and may subsequently be liable to prosecution.”

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