A short by Chris Cousins using the churning out of drugs as an analogy for the addictive and not-originally-intented harmful nature of social media.
Via Conor Gallgher
Spotted over the weekend.
On the Clontarf Road, Dublin 3.
Thanks Alan Bracken
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan
The Green Party have called for the decriminalisation of drug use and the legalisation of cannabis for medical use among their recommendations to the Government’s new National Drugs Strategy. The public consultation closed on the new strategy closed yesterday.
Speaking in support of the submission, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD said:
“Opportunities for open consultation on government policy are very welcome, particularly when it comes to matters as important as our National Drugs Strategy, and we’re glad that the Government sought submissions on this issue. There has to be an acceptance that the current situation in Ireland is not working for anyone, and that a new National Drugs Strategy presents an opportunity to change this…
Thanks Jonathan Victory
Garda Keith Harrison
Yesterday, RTÉ’s This Week had an item about Garda Keith Harrison who arrested a member of the drugs unit in Athlone for suspected drink driving.
Garda Harrison claims his career has been ruined by this arrest which, although not reported in the RTÉ report, took place in 2009.
Reporter John Burke explained that Garda Harrison made a complaint to the then Garda Confidential Recipient “two and a half years ago”, before making a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
Mr Burke said: “GSOC are still awaiting clarification on key issues relating to that investigation which is now running for over two years”.
In his report, Mr Burke played an interview he recorded with Garda Harrison’s solicitor Trevor Collins, of Galway-based Kilfeather Solicitors.
During the interview, Mr Collins said:
“My experience, on behalf of my client, is one of frustration in that he brought a complaint, originally to the Garda Confidential Recipient, almost two and a half years ago. Eventually, that was referred to GSOC and GSOC have had this complaint for two years. My client has provided all the information and complied with every request that’s been made of him by GSOC but, much to his frustration, he has been left in limbo for the last two years.
“We, on his behalf, have been pressing GSOC for an explanation as to why these delays have arisen and it is correct to say that GSOC did provide us with an explanation whereby they have told us that their delay in the investigation is due to an apparent delay on the part of An Garda Síochána in furnishing them in whatever information it is they require to conclude their investigation.”
“I’m not privy to the precise details, John, I can only speak on behalf of my client. In terms of the prejudice it causes him and I was advised by GSOC that they’re still waiting for further information from An Garda Síochána.”
“…It is apparent to us that the legislation they (GSOC) wish to rely upon, the power that they have, to investigate is not fit for purpose in that it doesn’t provide them the teeth – and I think that was the word used by Judge Mary Ellen Ring to compel An Garda Síochána to deliver the information they seek. That’s the significant point here.”
“GSOC can make all the requests they wish of and for information but, at the moment, it’s for the gardaí to decide when they wish to deliver that information.”
Further to this…
Readers may wish to Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty’s claims about Garda Harrison in the Dáil on May 15, 2014 – a week after the then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter resigned.
More than a month ago I was contacted by a serving member of An Garda Síochána who relayed to me very disturbing allegations in regard to Garda practices in the Westmeath division but not exclusive to that division. I subsequently met with this garda and have had a number of telephone conversations with him since.
On the day that the former Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, resigned, that garda called me and told me that as a result of that resignation he now had more faith in the confidential recipient process and was going to arrange a meeting. That meeting took place today.
Garda Keith Harrison claims that as a result of arresting a member of the drugs unit in Athlone for drunk driving, that Garda management maliciously set out targeting him while the arrested garda was afforded protection by Garda management.
He claims that a managerial review of his high work returns and practices was instigated and persons who had past interactions with him in the execution of his duties were invited by the Garda to make complaints against him.
He claims that during this period from September 2009 until March 2011, he was office-bound while the garda he arrested, who had been found with a high concentration of alcohol, was still driving official vehicles and carrying an official firearm.
Garda Harrison makes serious claims about how the drunk driving case was struck out of court on dubious rulings and how evidence relating to the case was stolen by a member of the Garda.
He also claims that a member of the Garda of officer rank stationed in the Westmeath division prevented successful prosecution of individuals in a number of cases.
On Monday, I met with Garda Harrison again. At that meeting there was also Garda Nicky Kehoe, who is another serving Garda whistleblower, and who has made serious claims in regard to the connection of a major heroin dealer in the Midlands and a senior member of the drugs unit.
Both those serving gardaí at that meeting were joined by former garda and prominent whistleblower, John Wilson, who is advising both men. I also invited our justice spokesperson, Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, to attend which he did.
At that meeting copies of sworn affidavits were given to me from both gardaí. Garda Harrison claims that he had suspicions about a member of the Garda who was working within the drugs unit who may have been knowingly allowing the sale and supply of drugs within the Athlone district and that he had raised this with management, but he claims that it fell on deaf ears.
At that meeting I was also presented with a written record of a meeting between Garda Nicky Kehoe and a civilian who has come forward in recent days who corroborates the claims that have been made by Garda Kehoe in regard to heroin dealing and a member of the Garda.
Readers may also wish to note a story which was in The Sunday Times yesterday, by John Mooney.
The article (above) concerned an internal investigation which, effectively, substantiated some of Garda Kehoe’s claims in relation to Garda collusion in heroin dealing in the Midlands.
Further to this…
Readers may also wish to recall separate claims made by another Garda whistleblower, Jack Doyle, about gardai colluding with drug dealers.
Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace told the Dáil on May 15, 2014:
One such story comes from a former garda called Jack Doyle. His story gained some attention around 2000. He revealed some serious drug involvement by gardaí in the Cork area and at the time the Garda authorities confirmed that undercover gardaí had been involved in the importation of illegal drugs into the State in what they described as controlled operations.
However, a spokesman said that these operations were necessary in order to bring the leaders of criminal drug gangs to justice. Garda management rejected calls for an inquiry into claims made by Jack Doyle, saying nothing inappropriate had occurred.
We got a 27-page report from Jack Doyle into the background to what went on. I will read less than a page of it. He was speaking with one of the drug runners with whom he had become acquainted:
He recounted to me how they had many opportunities to arrest the boss of the criminal gang but failed to do so. When asked why, he replied, “They have a senior garda in their pocket.” He then recounted an incident in Rosslare when he was returning with a shipment of drugs. A customs officer stopped him and was about to search his jeep when two plain-clothes gardaí commandeered the jeep and drove out of the terminal at speed, being pursued by customs officers. A high-speed chase ensued and the gardaí lost their pursuers. As a result of this incident he said he would never personally bring drugs in again.
He then proceeded to tell me about the many runs he had done, bringing in cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and firearms. Massive amounts of drugs were coming in and quantities were allowed to get into the hands of the criminal gang. He told me how he was being well looked after financially by both the criminal gang and the gardaí.
“He then went on to tell me where he had left a handgun in a wooden area in Cork. He contacted a particular detective sergeant and told him of the location, and drawing a map in the area pinpointed it. On finding the location, two gardaí threw in a number of firearms to beef up the find. He explained that the press reported it as a subversive arms find. When I asked him why they would do this, he replied, “To further their careers in the force.”
Their careers have progressed and one of them is now an assistant commissioner. He was appointed by the former Minister, Deputy Shatter, and this same individual was involved in the Boylan case which entails a very similar story to Jack Doyle’s.
Jack Doyle’s career did not progress. He turned up at his place of work one day and was told, “Jack, you’re not coming in here. You’d better go home. You’re finished, Jack. But, listen, you’ll be grand; we’ll look after your pension.” He was forcibly retired. That one of the gardaí involved is now an assistant commissioner – he could actually be the next Commissioner – emphasises how important it is that the new Commissioner should come from outside the State with a new hierarchy built around him or her as otherwise problems will not go away.
In addition, in December 2014, Mr Wallace spoke at a Banter evening, saying the following:
…[Jack Doyle] watched drugs being taken off boats and gardai supervised the offloading of them. He went to his chief superintendent and told him the story and he was told, ‘oh god, you better go to Dublin with that story’.
He went to Dublin with the story and, the following week, he told his story in Phoenix Park. He went back home the next day and he turned up for work and a guard blocked his way into the garda station and said to him, ‘oh jaysus, Jack, you don’t work here’. [Jack said] ‘what do you mean?’ [Garda said] ‘Jack, it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine, it’s all over, it’s all over but listen everything will be taken care of, you’ll get your redundancy, the whole lot.’
He never worked for the guards again. I brought that story to the Dáil twice in the last 12 months but it hasn’t, you haven’t seen it because it hasn’t been covered by the media. And there’s a lot of other stories.
There’s a number of cases where guards take, they capture drugs. We know of a case where drugs were coming in, maybe five suitcases of cocaine might come in and it would be organised to let four through, the guards would catch one suitcase with some chaps that would be heading off in one direction with the suitcase. Their leader was never caught.
And the suitcase they would catch, they would bring it and there’d be a big show and the media would be brought down to show, ‘oh, there was a big drugs find yesterday and here’s all the stuff’.
The stuff goes back in a box and fellas have come to us and told us that they were dealing in drugs, they were caught by the cops, they weren’t turned in and the cop says, ‘we’ll be back to ya’. They come back two weeks later and say, ‘here, sell this for us and bring us back the money’. There’s a good bit of that going on.
Listen back to RTÉ’s This Week item here
Previously: Meanwhile, In The Dáil
From top: A Dublin pharmacy; Joe Barry.
There is unanimity that criminal drug suppliers have to be taken on.
But who will take on the legal drug suppliers?
Professor Joe Barry writes:
The recent killings in North Inner City Dublin have sparked much debate about illicit drugs, their control and the harms they wreak in many communities.
It is timely to examine the demand for and supply of all classes of psychoactive substances and how we are addressing them in Ireland.
In terms of legal status there are three broad categories: illegal substances, including heroin, cocaine, cannabis and a range of related substances; medicines intended for use on prescription only such as tranquillisers, anxiolytics and anti-depressants; and alcohol.
The first category are illegal for supply and personal consumption, with a wide range of sanctions. The second category are, in theory, controlled by being prescription only.
Alcohol is in a class of its own, with minimal regulation for adults in terms of supply.
In reality the above three categories have much more in common than separates them. The annual report of the national drug related deaths index from the Health Research Board tells us that there is approximately one overdose death per day in Ireland from combinations of these substances.
Demand for psychoactive substances is fairly high in Ireland. We have an international reputation for alcohol. Psychotropic medication is dispensed in large quantities to Irish people, not all of which is taken by the person for whom it is prescribed. Medicines are often shared or sold on.
There is a market for prescription drugs and many pills taken now have arrived in Ireland by unknown routes. The rapid rise and even more rapid demise of Headshops in 2010 has resulted in a supply of pills onto Irish streets that has not washed through yet.
Why do we take psychoactive drugs? To make us happy, to celebrate or make us feel good, to loosen our inhibitions, to erase or temporarily shut out traumatic experiences, to help us cope with life’s difficulties and for many more reasons.
For many, dependency patterns develop and severe personal and family disruption can ensue. Problems arising from psychoactive substances are usually passed to the health and social care services to address.
The ‘polluter pays’ principle does not apply in Ireland.
In general, public health thinking in relation to psychoactive substances broadly supports the view that the less psychoactive substances taken in any society the better.
The American ‘war on drugs’ has failed and the public health approach is often referred to as the harm reduction model.
It is in addressing supply-side issues as part of this harm reduction approach and advocating for certain policies to reduce supply that public health practitioners come into conflict with vested interests.
Suppliers of illegal drugs are open to criminal sanction. To a lesser extent users of illegal drugs can be also but events in the North Inner City have shown that things are not so straightforward.
Major suppliers are both reviled and feared. Users are caught in the middle and also experience stigma on an ongoing basis.
Suppliers of alcohol are a mixed bunch. Publicans and specialist off-licence holders in effect run small(ish) businesses, in every part of Ireland.
The large supermarket chains are small in number but, through ever expanding outlets, this limited number of large companies are eating into the market share and have become the dominant retailers.
On the production side we have the large transnational corporations flexing their very considerable financial muscles continuously; buying respectability and attempting to make themselves indispensable to Irish Sport and the Arts and lobbying our politicians at home and at the EU.
The extent of this lobbying is now being flushed out in to the open but so far it has been very successful at preventing any public health alcohol legislation making its way onto our Statute Books.
The third source of supply of psychoactive substances is the Pharmaceutical Industry. This industry is arguably more influential than the Alcohol Industry. It is a beneficiary of Ireland’s low corporation tax rate, it makes huge profits and has resisted efforts by the Irish State to supply medicines at more affordable prices.
Because of this behaviour it is now very much under the spotlight. Part of its profits comes from psychoactive medicines which cumulatively cost the State enormous sums; these drugs are very heavily and successfully marketed.
On the supply side, therefore, we have three types of major operators; criminal operators who make vast profits and two categories of Transnational Corporations who also make vast profits but who have so far resisted attempts by our legislators to pursue the common good.
They seem to operate on the basis that they are ‘too big to fail’ and that our country will be the loser if they are regulated more tightly.
There is unanimity that criminal drug suppliers have to be taken on. I hope that there is a growing realisation in the 32nd Dáil that the legal drug suppliers must be taken on also through effective regulation.
We see where light touch regulation in respect of the banks has landed us. Let us learn from those mistakes.
Joe Barry is Professor of Population Health Medicine at Trinity College Dublin.. Follow Joeon Twitter: @BarryProf
The gak factsheet.
A gaksheet, if you will.
Not to be sniffed at.
David Burns, of UCD Students Union, writes:
UCDSU will launch a drug harm reduction campaign, the “What’s in the Powder?” campaign, in collaboration with DITSU,TCDSU & the Ana Liffey Drug Project today in the Mansion House, Dublin this afternoon
The campaign aims to educate students on the common constituent parts of illicit substances, especially those sold in powder form, and follows the template of last year’s What’s in the Pill campaign.
Resources created include posters and a factsheet, which will be distributed on participant campuses as well as promoted on social media and via the drugs.ie website.