CLAIMS of a crack cocaine epidemic gripping communities in the Shannon estuary have been dismissed by County Limerick residents.
A report by Newstalk’s Barry White, aired on 27th September, suggested communities in Pallaskenry, Kildimo and Askeaton were “awash with crack cocaine.”
The package was aired on the Pat Kenny show following a statement made at the Limerick Joint Policing Committee on drugs usage in the county.
However, several of those interviewed were quick to point out that this was a national problem, such as Rachel O’Donaghue, member of the Anna Liffey Drug Project who said:
P“We have seen an increase in cocaine use amongst our service users.
“Some people we have noticed in the past twelve months have started to use crack cocaine as well, amongst other drugs”.
“I don’t think I would call it an epidemic”.
The report spoke to a number of Limerick people, such as Daniel Butler, a drug worker in the city and an unnamed Askeaton native, all of whom dismissed the notion that the county was in the grips of an epidemic.
“I think epidemic is a bit sensationalist, to be fair,” said Mr. Butler.
“I think we are experiencing similar cocaine levels of use as you would see in other parts of the country.
“I think nationally, there’s a recognition that there’s a spike in the use of cocaine amongst particularly the 18 to 25 year old age bracket, whereas in previous times it was primarily among the 25 to 35 year old age group bracket”, he added.
His views were mirrored by a local man in Askeaton, who told reporter Barry White that he would see some young people using cocaine at weekends in pubs but that “it wouldn’t be widespread.”
The rise in drug use has been attributed to a number of factors, such as the price of alcohol in pubs and lack of resources available to effectively control the problem.
According to the most recent all-Ireland drug survey, 26.4% of adults aged 15 and over admit to using an illegal drug in their lifetime, 7.5% of those admitting to doing so in the last year.
Tom Flynn, a member of the homeless drop in centre said that while there is “definitely and increase” in the use of crack cocaine in Limerick, it is a drug “prevalent all over the world”.