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Crystal meth epidemic fear after 60pc rise

THERE are fresh concerns about a serious crystal meth epidemic in the capital with new figures showing seizures of the drug have hit a record high.

The Herald can reveal that gardai made 34 seizures of crystal meth from January to October -- a 60pc rise on the whole of last year.

Gardai are now on high alert about a potential outbreak of the substance -- which was effectively unheard of on our shores five years ago.

A source explained: "Crystal meth costs the same as cocaine -- about ¤50-70 per gram. There definitely is a strong level of concern about the effects it will have."

And public representatives and drug rehabilitation charities have today expressed fears that Ireland is on the brink of a major outbreak.

Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Mechants Quay Ireland, told the Herald that the drug -- also known as 'glass' -- had "huge potential for harm.

"There's no doubt its presence is much smaller than the likes of cannabis and heroin but its effects cannot be talked down."



EVIL

And Labour TD for Dublin Mid West Robert Dowd -- who unearthed the figures in a parliamentary question -- told the Herald that he had major fears of the effects an outbreak would have on communities.

"I am deeply concerned about the potentially devastating effects which crystal meth could have across the country if it continues its upward trend of use. This is a truly evil drug which has destroyed countless communities in the United States and in many other countries."

He added: "I am calling on the Minister for Justice and the gardai to be pro-active in tackling crystal meth. We all remember how the heroin epidemic was ignored in the 1980s, with many families and communities ripped apart as a result. Let's not make the same mistake twice."

Although the minister stated the number of people seeking HSE support over crystal meth is "relatively small", he admitted that the drug needs to be monitored closely.

Mr Shatter said: "Misuse of methamphetamine remains a significant part of the international drug problem."

hnews@herald.ie