26 November 2005

PSNI drug ‘inaction’

Daily Ireland

Connla Young

A campaigning Co Antrim great-grandmother yesterday slammed the PSNI for failing to tackle drug dealers with links to loyalist paramilitaries who target children in their area.
Eileen Wright from Lisburn hit out after she and a friend were asked to present themselves at a local police station.
This followed complaints made by suspected drug dealers desperate to break the women's will to banish dealers from their district.
The women, along with mothers from a number of estates in the sprawling city, have campaigned for several months to force dealers from the area.
The community campaign is centred on the city's Tonagh estate.
A gang of drug dealers with links to the Loyalist Volunteer Force has been operating in the estate for the last few years.
Earlier this week, the PSNI told Mrs Wright to attend Lisburn PSNI station to answer allegations of intimidation.
The PSNI has come in for criticism recently for failing to deal directly with Lisburn's growing drugs scourge.
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Mrs Wright remained defiant.
“They asked me if I would like to come down to the police station.
“The woman I spoke to said the drug dealers have made allegations that I was involved in putting up anti-drugs posters in the area.
“I told her I'm 19 stone [121 kilograms], 62 years of age, riddled with arthritis and hardly able to put my foot across the gate so I certainly wasn't involved in putting posters up.
“I'm not wasting my time answering allegations made by drug dealers, allegations that are not true.
“I told the policewoman it would be a waste of her time and mine.
“If they have evidence, they can arrest me but I'm not going to that police station. What happens after that, I don't know.
“They think, by asking me to come to them, they are doing me a favour. We're on the streets to protect our children."
Mrs Wright and her fellow anti-drug campaigners have themselves been the victims of intimidation in recent months.
During a recent protest march, several known drug dealers took photographs of women taking part.
Mrs Wright is critical of the PSNI response to the drugs crisis.
“They are asking the public to give them information and, when they get it, they don't do anything with it," she said.
A spokesperson for the PSNI said the force was working to tackle the problem in Lisburn.
“Police are investigating a number of allegations of intimidation in the Lisburn area. Police are also proactively tackling the issue of drugs in the area.
“Between April ’05 and August ’05, £0.75 million [€1.1 million] of drugs have been seized in the Lisburn area, 27 arrests made in the same time period in relation to drugs, and 21 people have been charged and 33 reported for drugs offences.
“Police in Lisburn are fully committed to tackling all crime in the area and would appeal to the public for their assistance in doing so.”
The spokesperson was unable to say how many arrests related to people caught with drugs for personal use and how many related to dealers.

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