A Waterford mother has spoken of the daily nightmare of trying to save her 17-year-old daughter from the ravages of heroin addiction.
Her experiences, which she relayed to Councilor Gary Wyse, illustrate the extent of an escalating social problem facing parents throughout Waterford.
This follows claims made by Wyse that dealers in the city are offering free cannabis joints laced with heroin to secondary school goers who are unaware of the “free” drug’s exact contents.
“She is at the end of her tether,” said Wyse of “Jane” (not her real name).
“Sadly for her, she’d already had to deal with a son who was also addicted to heroin, so it’s not the first time she’s been down this road.”
Jane, who has already been forced to pay €10,000 to dealers such is the extent of her daughter’s addiction, has also suffered intimidation from those her daughter owes money to.
And parents of a 20-year-old Waterford heroin addict have also spoken of their despair regarding their son’s future, as well as the devastation that his drug abuse has introduced into family life.
“Michael” and “Sarah” (not their real names) saluted the efforts of Waterford Gardai (police) in tackling the drugs issue. But both feel the force is fighting an uphill battle in curbing the availability of heroin.
Sarah, who admitted to being “terrified” of her son, said he is unrecognizable from the shy, quiet teenager he used to be before succumbing to drugs.
“He’s was a normal, well-adjusted teenager -- he was pretty shy all right, but he had his friends and he enjoyed his sport and going to the cinema, the things someone his age is meant to enjoy,” she said.
“But now, because of drugs, he is a completely different person. It’s as if someone has just taken the personality we knew and loved and completely drained it out of him.
“He has no interest in anything now, anything of any value to making his life better. He hardly eats a thing and he doesn’t want to know us at all unless he’s looking for money to buy drugs, which is pretty much all he spends money on these days. But he doesn’t get a penny from us, not a penny.”
Galway Garda Station was evacuated for almost four hours last Wednesday morning after a suspicious white powder was delivered in a package to the station.
Specialists from the army’s bomb squad were called on to remove and transport it in a sealed containment unit for analysis.
Initial army analysis has shown the substance to be non-hazardous. However, it’s understood that Gardai had reason to take the threat “very seriously,” and there were fears it was anthrax or another substance which posed a biological threat.
The package, which had been delivered with the morning post, was discovered at around 9 a.m. in the District Office at Mill Street, and the alarm was immediately raised.
The station was evacuated and sealed off as an army bomb squad team was called in from Athlone.
The scene was made safe at around 1 p.m., and the squad’s slow-moving specialist truck subsequently left with a Garda escort for the Garda Technical Bureau at the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
Galway City Tribune
Wild cow attack
AN elderly Limerick woman is recovering at home after she was attacked by a cow that went on the rampage at the mart in Kilmallock.
Betty Breen, 79, was rushed to hospital after she was knocked over by the cow while browsing through the stalls at the bank holiday market.
"I was just enjoying myself in the sun, walking between the stalls, and the next thing this dark shape -- it was a bullock or a bull or whatever, he kicked me and I fell down. It came from behind and I felt this terrible sharp pain in my leg," said Breen.
"It could have been a lot worse. I could have been killed. I'm thankful to God that didn't happen," she continued.
According to a spokesperson for Golden Vale Marts in Kilmallock, the cow broke free while it was been moved from a trailer to a pin. A record number of people who were attending the bumper bank holiday mart looked on as the cow then scampered through the grounds and out onto the main road.
"It went out the back entrance near the Mill, headed down through Gortboy and Millmount and out onto New Road," explained a local.
No Holding Mayo
FIFTY-three new companies have been formed in Mayo since the start of the year and, surprisingly, six of the new companies are in the construction sector.
Figures released show that the county is holding its own regarding new start-up businesses, and figures are marginally up on the same period last year. Fifty-one new companies were set up in Mayo for the first quarter of last year.
Sinead Daly of Dublin based company ICC Formations, which compiled the report, says the statistics show the economic downturn may be easing.
"This is a positive sign in Mayo with new companies remaining strong. With more people having time on their hands they are looking at ways in which they use their talents,” she said.
“Many are finding that setting up on their own is the only way to go. While it is a new thing to most people to go out on their own, there is help out there to do it and this seems to have proven popular."
Mayo is well ahead of its provincial neighbors with 31 new companies formed in Roscommon and 29 formed in Sligo over the same period. Leitrim recorded the lowest figures nationwide with just five new companies formed this year so far.
"Entrepreneurship is growing steadily and people who would have had an idea but never had the chance to pursue it are doing that now," Daly said.
"They might have lost their job or taken a pay cut and now see this as an opportunity.
"There is good tax breaks for anyone who is thinking of setting up their own company. Many see this as a great incentive and they are willing to go for it. It can be a perfect time for a lot of people."
Jobless young men
THE scale of the unemployment problem among young men in the midlands has been laid bare by shock new figures which reveal that almost four in every 10 are unemployed in the region.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the midlands, at 38.9%, had the country's third highest unemployment rate for young men, behind the mid-west (39.4%) and the south west (41.6%).
The statistics also showed that young men aged between 15 and 24 were far more likely to be unemployed in the midlands than their female counterparts (12.3%). When combined, the figures give a total unemployment rate for that age group of 27%.
The unemployment rate is above the national average of 25.9% for that age range.
The rate is defined as the number of unemployed expressed as a percentage of the total labor force. The figures exclude full-time students who are not available for work, either part-time or full-time.
Sinn Fein councilor Paul Hogan has described the figures as "frightening."
He said the statistics didn't take into account the thousands who had emigrated, pointing out that the figure for youth unemployment, if such a level of emigration had not taken place, would be much higher. And he argued that cutting or reducing youth dole payments was no answer to the jobs crisis.
NO GUM please -- we're Dubs.
That's the message from a former lord mayor who is proposing to ban chewing gum from Dublin city to stop littering.
Councilor Vincent Jackson is calling on Dublin City Council to ask the Department of Environment to ban all chewing gum which is not biodegradable.
The move would put Dublin on a par with Singapore, which has an outright ban on chewing gum, or with countries like Israel and Germany which support the sale of biodegradable gum.
Jackson said chewing gum is causing a huge litter problem, and it costs several hundred thousand euro to clean it up every year.
"It's a huge task to remove the chewing gum from the city streets, and there's a high level of steam equipment and a huge number of staff. You can only do it when people aren't around on the street, like very early in the morning," he said.
"It would take a sea change because that's what's required to reverse years and years of the 'anything goes' attitude with regard to the environment."
However, a spokesperson from the Department of Environment said it would not support the ban of chewing gum from Dublin.
"It is the responsibility of each individual to correctly dispose of their chewing gum in a suitable manner," he said.
But Jackson insists that despite the best efforts of street cleaners and educators, the problem continues to persist.
Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod
This week's top story highlights the serious heroin problem in Waterford that is tearing families apart in the region.