Donegal says "No" to Head Shops
The 'head-shops of Donegal Town and indeed the rest of the county received a strong message on Saturday afternoon when an estimated 300 people took to the streets of Donegal Town and demanded their immediate closure.
This was not a protest confined to Donegal Town - children, parents, community activists, councillors, members of the Oireachtas and an MEP from all parts of the North West marched in unison behind the Ardaghey Pipe Band demanding immediate legislation banning these ‘legal highs’ and the closure of the outlets.
As the protest made its way down the Main Street of the town led by young children bearing placards, members of the steering committee handed in letters to both the head shops demanding their immediate closure.
Representatives from all political parties shared a united platform on the Diamond in the centre of the town-the Mayors of Donegal Town and Ballyshannon Paul Keeney and Cllr. Eugene Dolan, Marian Harkin, MEP, Dinny McGinley, TD, Senators Brian O Domhnaill and Pearse Doherty, and Cllr. Thomas Pringle.
Opening the meeting, Tom Conaghan of the Steering Committee thanked the large crowd and the many public representatives who had taken the time to voice their anger at the presence of these shops.
Conaghan said,”We will not stop until these are closed down. In the present financial climate we are witnessing shops closing down in every corner of the county yet head shops are springing up in practically every town-there is obviously money in misery.
“Anybody who doubts that Donegal is united in this cause should just look around them - we are delivering a strong message today-Close now before there is a death on our hands.”
Senator Pearse Doherty said that Sinn Féin had raised this issue four years ago and nothing had been done.
He said, “There has been inaction by the Government but I will be introducing a Bill in the Seanad after the recess and appeal to all parties to unite behind it.
“We have young people walking into these shops in their school uniforms. These people are dealing in death.”
He also pointed out that the people who rent their properties to these legal drug peddlers are equally as guilty as those who are selling them highlighted the general drug problem in the county.
“The reality is illegal drugs-coke and heroin are equally available in every town and village in the county. I know of places where coke is being given free just to get people hooked.
“We really have to look at the root cause and curb both the availability and the demand.”
Senator Brian O’ Domhnaill called on the operators to shut up their doors immediately.
“If they have any moral conscience they shouldn’t wait for legislation, they should close today.”
Dinny McGinley TD told the crowd there was no welcome for this activity in the county and legislation must be enacted immediately. “There is no excuse for a delay-if the problem is serious enough, the Government can act-look at the banks.” he said.
Cllr Thomas Pringle called for their immediate ban of psycho-active drugs saying “ Planning legislation is not the solution to this problem, If one of them applies for retention it just gives them legitimacy.
The products must be banned-they bring destruction on our community.”
MEP Marian Harkin told the meeting that the Government can impose an immediate ban on these head shops if the will is there.
“I have checked this in Europe just this week and have been told that if there is an issue in relation to ‘Public Safety’ a Government can act straight away.
“Just look what happened when there was a pig-meat scare last year. Overnight there was not one morsel of Irish pork on the supermarket shelves of Europe.
“Surely life-threatening drugs are equally as important.”
06 April 2010
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