herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Latest city drug scourge hitting small business

a DUBLIN city shop owner claims the capital's ongoing drugs problem is costing him business.

Darryl O'Callaghan (27) runs a shop in the north inner city.

"An addict will come in who's been begging all morning and plonk €20 worth of coins on my counter and tell me they want a €20 note for it so they can score," Mr O'Callaghan said.

"When they're here a customer might see them as an unsavoury character when they're someone who's hurting and walk away and I'm losing business."

synthetic

In recent weeks new synthetic drugs have begun to be sold in various parts of the inner city, with dealers claiming they are selling crystal meth.

Users of the new drug will also look for tinfoil in Mr O'Callaghan's Sean McDermott Street shop.

"I tell them 'no' and there might be five to 10 minutes of arguing - it's not that I don't want to help them, it's that I don't want to facilitate them," he said.

Mr O'Callaghan, who has been a community activist since the age of 15, has seen problems in his area worsen in the past few months since the new synthetic drug began coming on stream.

Tony Duffin, of the Ana Liffey Drug Project which helps people in addiction, has been told by users that the new drug is selling for €20 a bag.

A bag contains approximately four hits and users will take it on average every two hours.

"The drugs that are being sold now are the worst," said Mr O'Callaghan.

"People didn't have fear of the heroin addicts, whereas they do of these now."

Drug users coming into his shop also frighten young schoolchildren when they come in to buy their lunch before class.

"It's unfair on the kids. If someone comes in and they're itching, the kids will back into the corner and that will make them late for school," said the shopkeeper.

"If they're late for school they'll get an hour's detention, so it's go to school hungry or be late, and if it keeps happening they'll just go to the next shop."

Having grown up in the inner city, Mr O'Callaghan knows some of the young children see drug dealing as glamorous and says more deterrents are needed.

"I was lucky I got into politics and martial arts, but there is very little for the kids to do around here," said Mr O'Callaghan.

gangster

"Some young people growing up in this area look up to the dealers - they want the new fancy runners and they see the watches and the cars.

"Some kids have the idea in their head that they're going to be a tough gangster and they don't see the consequences of prison and addictions - the deterrents."

Mr O'Callaghan, who joined Labour Youth 12 years ago, ran in the May local elections in the inner city, but failed to get elected.

He has operated his shop for nearly six years.

jfegan@herald.ie

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