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TD highlights "reality behind heroin addiction" with graphic recount of brutal killing of friend

23 May, 2006


After graphically outlining a horrific incident in which a drug addict killed his own sister in her flat in St Theresas Gardens in Dublin, after a row over his drug problem, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh warned that this is the "reality behind heroin addiction if we fail to take decisive action to tackle the problem of drugs."  Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his comments on the opening day of a two day debate in the Dáil on a Sinn Féin motion on drug abuse.

He also said, “The intimidation of whole communities by the continuing explosion of drug-dealing, open drug-dealing and the related crime spree has never been effectively tackled. Walk into most pubs in Dublin today and if you look around carefully you will see the open drug dealing or abuse of cocaine, heroin or hash. You will see the drug abusers sniffing, snorting, injecting or smoking in the toilets, or sometimes blatantly in full public view. You will see them ringing for their deliveries and dealers’ cars pulling up outside to ply their trade.”

Deputy Ó Snodaigh went on to compare the states response to the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 with the response to the drugs crisis.  He said, “In 2001 when faced with a crisis which wasn’t going to effect a solitary soul the whole apparatus of the state was mobilised to shut down the country; the Gardaí, Customs officals, department officials and the public were involved in preventing the movement of suspects, to stop the trade and this was for the foot and mouth disease.”

“Where is the emergency measures to tackle a trade which has killed hundreds if not thousands over the last 30 years?” he asked.

Full text of speech by Aengus Ó Snodaigh to Sinn Féin Private Members motion on Drugs

“She was sitting up in bed just before I slashed her. I slashed her on the throat two or three times in the bed. I covered her with a pillow so I wouldn't have to look at her face. There was a gurgling noise like she was trying to breathe. There was blood all over my hands.”

This was the testimony read out in court at the trial of heroin addict who killed his sister. I know this – not because I read in a newspaper or saw it on SKY news – I know it because I sat through this harrowing court case.

It was the court case of a constituent of mine. But more importantly for me it was the trial of a person who killed a close friend of mine and my family.

Lisa Bell was killed by her heroin-addicted brother almost five years ago. It was her father Pat and myself who found her body stuffed in a sleeping bag in a wardrobe in her St Threasas Gardens flat.

Evidence at the trial also indicated that David Bell had stolen his nephews Christmas presents, his sisters TV, video and jewellery to feed his chronic addiction. This is what led to the argument that led to David taking a Stanley knife to his sisters’ throat.

Can you imagine, imagine for just one moment as you contemplate the motion before us tonight, the absolute trauma that heroin addiction has caused the Bell family, their friends and their immediate community.

This is an experience that I never, ever want to witness again and one which I would not wish on anybody.

But this is the reality behind heroin addiction.  This is the reality that awaits more of us if we allow crack cocaine to take hold and fail to take decisive action to tackle the problem of drugs in Ireland.

The Health Research Board estimated in 2003 that €650milllion was the value of the illegal drugs market in this state, that included cannabis, heroine, cocaine, amphetamine, ecstacy and LSD. This year it is estimated the cocaine market alone is worth over €200 million. I believe that both figures are seriously understating the huge profits drugs barons are making, the figure would be well over a billion, because the state and the Gardaí have never acknowledged the full extent of the drugs crisis in this state, and the associated crime wave. Gangland crime, including gangland shootings, are intrinsically linked with the increasing market in heroin, cocaine and crack-cocaine and also to hash or Ecstasy.

The intimidation of whole communities by the continuing explosion of drug-dealing, open drug-dealing and the related crime spree has never been effectively tackled. Walk into most pubs in Dublin today and if you look around carefully you will see the open drug dealing or abuse of cocaine, heroin or hash. You will see the drug abusers sniffing, snorting, injecting or smoking in the toilets, or sometimes blatantly in full public view. You will see them ringing for their deliveries and dealers’ cars pulling up outside to ply their trade.

They believe they are untouchable, invincible and the evidence to date shows they aren’t far wrong.

That cannot be tolerated to go on unchecked much longer and if the state isn’t willing to seriously address this crisis head-on then the destruction of communities as we saw with the heroin epidemic in the 1980s and early 1990s will be replicated and as before communities will have to take to the streets again.

 

 

There is no easy fix, no methadone for cocaine. As with heroin or other addictions it is costly and is time consuming to address the reasons for drug abuse, to tackle the addiction and to rebuild the lives of the addicts, their families, their communities and their victims. In 2001 when faced with a crisis which wasn’t going to effect a solitary soul the whole apparatus of the state was mobilised to shut down the country; the Gardaí, Customs officals, department officials and the public were involved in preventing the movement of suspects, to stop the trade and this was for the foot and mouth disease.

Where is the emergency measures to tackle a trade which has killed hundreds if not thousands over the last 30 years.

I welcome the large Garda seizures, but I also believe that they are but a tip of the iceberg and only reflect the huge amount of drugs, hard drugs coming and poisoning the country daily.

I also believe that An Garda Síochána could do a lot more to tackle this vile trade, because much of the so called low-level dealing occurs with the full knowledge of the Garda authorities, because they give immunity to small drug dealers in exchange for information. These are the same drug dealers who threaten neighbours, shoot competitors, bad debtors or anyone and anything who cross them. These are the ‘invincibles’, the scumbags who are destroying my community, my street.

The minister must tackle the large drug barons head-on, but he also must ensure a parallel operation against these drug-dealing scum, because otherwise they become the replacements for the large drug barons.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell needs to admit there is a problem, a crisis and not sidetrack the issue by turning on republicans as he usually does and so doing clearly demonstrating his willingness to abandon working-class communities to the growing drugs crisis.

The government must act now by increasing the resources available to An Garda Siochana National Drugs Unit, Local Drugs Units and Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers, speed up the civilianisation process, redirect the 400 or so Special Branch officers to tackling the real threat to our society.

When the community have faith in the Gardaí, when they are seen to be effective in tackling this malignant growth in our community, then the community will support them, co-operate with them better and then we will see the beginning of building of community confidence in their police force.

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