Head shop threat
The political wing of the Real IRA in Cork has stated that "other republican groups" in the city are not ruling out direct action against Cork head shops. Following the recent opening of the Nirvana Head shop on 128 Oliver Plunkett Street, a spokesperson for the Cork 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the political wing of the Real IRA, told the Cork Independent that it is currently considering its stance on the matter.
On Friday 12 February, a branch of the Nirvana head shop chain was burnt to the ground on Capel Street in Dublin's north inner city. Residents in the area had complained about antisocial behaviour outside the shop after it allegedly started selling legal highs through a hatch overnight at weekends. On Tuesday night, the Happy Hippy store in Dublin's north inner city was also burnt down.
Asked if Cork headshop owners were considered to be 'drug dealers', and under the same threat outlined in leaflets distributed in pubs across the city last fortnight, the group said it believes there could be a real threat.
"From what we have heard through the grapevine other republican groups are also monitoring the position of these head shops but again do not prioritise action against them but rather concentrate on the foreign occupation of the six counties," they said. "Having said that we also heard they have not ruled out direct action against the owners of the premises," the spokesperson said.
One police force
Detective Inspector Ger O'Mahony of the Cork City Drugs Unit told the Cork Independent, however, that there was nothing to indicate any threat to Cork head shops from dissident republicans.
"There is only one police force in Cork and members of the public should contact us if they are concerned about anything," he said.
He said further funding had also been approved for the Dial to Stop Drug Dealing hotline, which was set up to provide intelligence to the gardaí through the confidential hotline.
While there have been no arrests on the matter since leaflets were distributed a fortnight ago threatening drug dealers in the city, Det Insp O'Mahony said investigations in Cork city are ongoing.
"There are a large amount of items from last Tuesday week's seizures at a number of premises in Cork being itemized at present."
He said that a small amount of drugs had also been seized during the searches, which were part of their investigation into recent dissident republican group activity in the city. He confirmed that while there is "no indication of threats to head shops" he said the Gardaí are "keeping an eye" on it.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan O'Brien, a member of the Cork Local Drugs Task Force, said that we should not welcome the Nirvana store to Cork, following the "suspicious circumstances" in which the Dublin branch of the store was burnt down. "There has been an incredible proliferation of these shops recently, with up to half a dozen now operating across the city," he said.
He stressed that headshops are huge cause for concern for parents and community drugs workers, as the products are being dishonestly marketed and packaged. "A whole range of products for sale in these shops are in fact clever substitutes for cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis," he said.
"The chemical composition of most of these products is unknown. "We do not welcome this chain coming to Cork," he said.
Thursday, 18 February 2010