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Drug abuse at epidemic levels

COCAINE abuse, prescriptions drugs, all-day alcohol sessions… the depths of debauchery into which young people are descending in Strabane, has reached “epidemic proportions.”

Centring around the pedestrian bridge and the river bank on the Ballycolman side of the Mourne, the now regular drug and drink binges are attracting up to 35 young people at a time, some as young as 14.

As well as the substance abuse, residents have spoken about being verbally abused as they pass by the young adults and incidents of urinating in front of children have also been condemned. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent it is understood locals are even avoiding the area for fear of the abuse turning physical.

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Criticising the on-going debacle a spokesperson for a large group of Ballycolman residents described teenagers vomiting “all over the place” and young girls crawling around on all fours, in a stupor.

“This has been going on for months, but recently it has got far, far worse,” the woman, who preferred not to be named, said.

“It’s awful. They’re drinking and taking drugs all day long, fighting, pulling coats over one another when they fall asleep. You have to see it to believe it.

“It’s drink, drugs – cocaine, prescription drugs – and they’re doing this until they pass out and then some of them vomit all over the place.

“Some of them are urinating in front of children and people have been threatened. It’s going on around the clock.

“Police know about this because it’s been reported but nothing is being done about it.

“It needs to be stopped. If it isn’t, someone is going to be found dead, the state some of them are in.”

Weighing in behind residents, Strabane independent councillor, Raymond Barr says he’s concerned about both residents and young people’s welfare.

“Dealers are opening supplying drugs to the young ones,” he said. “And then they’re using the river bank as far up as a golf course, to take the drugs. It’s epidemic proportions.”

Cllr Barr revealed too that he knows of one young person who spent himself into debt with the dealers and who is now being threatened as a consequence.

“I’m really concerned about what’s happening here,” he continued. “And it’s something that I’m going to raise at council level. This is happening now in part because where they’re taking the drugs is isolated. I think the previously-mentioned concept of a riverside walkway has to now become a priority. Something like that would definitely make a difference.”

When contacted this week in relation to residents’ concerns police claimed they had no reports of drugs being sold around the area of Strabane Pedestrian Bridge, Meetinghouse Street and Ballycolman Estate at this time.

“However if anyone has any information of drugs being sold to contact police on the non-emergency number 101,” a spokesperson said.
“Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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