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  1. akack2
    Two men were being questioned today after a third so-called “head shop” was hit by fire.

    Firemen were called to the Yutopia store on Connolly Street in Sligo at around 12.30am this morning.

    Extensive smoke damage was caused to the town centre premises, which is also an adult shop.

    Hours later the men, aged 21 and 31, were arrested and taken to Sligo Garda Station.

    The fire is the latest in a series of incidents at head shops, which have caused controversy for their sale of legal highs.

    The Yutopia blaze comes the day after two viable improvised explosive devices were discovered outside head shops in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

    Last month, two separate Dublin head shops were set ablaze in suspected arson attacks.

    The Nirvana store in Capel Street was destroyed after flames ripped through the premises on February 12. Authorities were forced to order the demolition of the building for safety reasons in the wake of the fire.

    Four days later, attackers walked into the Happy Hippy store on nearby North Frederick Street, doused the place in petrol and set fire to it. The blaze was quickly brought under control and caused only minor damage to the front of the shop.

    The Sligo store was cordoned off as gardaí conducted a forensic examination.

    The two arrested men can be held for up to 24 hours under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

    11/03/10 - 03/11/10


  1. chillinwill
    A GARDA superintendent has described an arson attack on a shop selling so-called “legal highs” in Sligo as a “worrying development”.

    Two Sligo men were arrested in the early hours of yesterday following the attack at the Yutopia shop on Connolly Street.

    It is understood that an accelerant described as a “petrol bomb” was thrown through the shop window, causing extensive smoke and fire damage to the interior and contents of the shop.

    The alarm was raised at about 12.30am, and a number of fire tenders fought the blaze until after 2am.

    Supt James Kearns, who is leading the investigation, said any arson attack was of serious concern given the potential consequences for people living in the vicinity of burning premises.

    He described the early morning arrest of two local men aged 21 and 31 in the aftermath of the attack as “significant”.

    It is understood the men were arrested at a house in Sligo town. They were being questioned yesterday at Sligo Garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

    While no one was injured in the attack, a number of people living in apartments over and close to the shop were evacuated.

    The Mayor of Sligo, Cllr Jim McGarry of Labour, said he was thankful nobody had been injured in the fire. “I would condemn any attack which results in the destruction of property, not to mention the real risk of endangering lives.”

    Mr McGarry said that if “even a fraction” of media reports about the dangers of head shop products were true, they should be a matter of huge public concern.

    It is understood that four outlets in Sligo, including head shops and sex shops, deal in the controversial substances which, while legal, have sparked protests at other locations around the country.

    The issue was highlighted at meetings of Sligo Borough Council and Sligo County Council last week, when elected members called on the Government to enact as a matter of urgency promised legislation to regulate the substances.

    Local Sinn Féin Councillor Chris MacManus, who was among those calling for action, condemned the arson attack.

    “While everyone recognises that ‘head shops’ have no productive function in any of our towns or cities, attacks such as the one in Sligo last night serve no purpose other than to possibly endanger lives and to wilfully destroy property.”

    Another Sligo councillor, Dara Mulvey of Fine Gael, said there were now more head shops than post offices in Ireland.

    Addiction counsellor Sean Foy of the Learning Curve Institute last week hosted a workshop in Sligo, the first of a series around the country, entitled “Legal Highs – a Description of the Available Substances and their Effects”.

    Mr Foy said experts in addiction did not have knowledge of the impact of products sold in head shops “either in the long term or the short term”. He said there was a worry that if the Minister banned goods such as methadrone, which was still legal in Britain, people would go across the Border to source them.

    March 12, 2010
    Irish Times
  2. Snouter Fancier
    Re: Petrol bomb attack on shop selling 'legal highs'

    Can this possibly be true? The mind boggles.
  3. bananaskin
    Re: Petrol bomb attack on shop selling 'legal highs'

    So... this says a lot in itself.

    By methadrone one assumes they mean mephedrone.
  4. akack2
    Re: Petrol bomb attack on shop selling 'legal highs'

    and no there are not more head shops than post offices,thats bull
  5. Nature Boy
    Re: Petrol bomb attack on shop selling 'legal highs'

    Grrr! Reading these articles is really starting to piss me off. Head shops have no productive value so we shouldn't be surprised they're getting petrol bombed?! News fucking flash: 90% of stores have no productive value. They just shift monotonous consumer products that no-one really needs. It's a reflection on how retarded we are as a country. I feel to disgraced to be known as Irish. We're in an economic nightmare and the best thing people can protest about are powders that their (largely adult) offspring are purchasing legally.
  6. John Doe
    I would love to hear the wisdom 'Sean Foy' has to offer the general public. Have you seen the contents of the course on the Learning Curve website? It looks like he claims to be a one stop shop for all information on 'Legal Highs' but I can only imagine what and where he got his information from and this is what Joe Public is believing to be fact unfortunately.
  7. sean_learningcurveinst
    Hi John, Sean Foy here from The Learning Curve Institute, I just want to address some of your concerns about myself and our training workshop from your last post.

    Firstly let me assure you that we would never ever claim to be a "one stop shop" for all information on Legal Highs. As I'm sure you are aware new substances and chemicals are constantly being developed and inchanged and older drugs are consistently being adapted and reinvented.

    Our 1 day training workshop on Headshops substances and legal highs is aimed at professionals who work with people who have been using some of these legal highs or with peeople who may be experimenting in these substances. Our goal is to train and inform these workers on the substances that are currently available in the stores in Ireland and their effects. In the workshop we use real case studies and facilitate discussion from professionals in the industry who have experience of working with people who have previously taken some of these headshops substances. We would never claim to be a one stop shop for all information though.

    I would like to invite you to look at the about us section of The Learning Curve Institute website where hopefully you will see that I have been working in the drugs and addiction fields for over 17 years and I hold numerous qualifications in Social Work, Drug Dependence and Addiction Studies. I also regularly deliver lectures in this field at NUI Galway and in the Metropolitan University of London.

    Finally if you have any other concerns about our training course please feel free to contact me directly through the contact us section of our website and I would be happy to talk to you about whatever remaining issues you may have.
  8. John Doe
    Hi Sean,

    Sorry, I shouldn't have gotten personal in my post and took out my frustration on the speaker.

    My biggest concern would be that some of the contents of the course would be compiled of speculation, I just don't see how some of the subjects you have could be conclusive at this stage, Ireland lagged behind a bit in the pickup of the RC's and only then because of the headshops which have watered down and pick'n'mix type of offerings anyway. The UK has been buying 99~% pure Mephedrone over the internet for a few years now so there might be some more information to be sourced in the UK. Regardless, if there’s one thing the past has taught us is that once a drug is scheduled, no new facts are absorbed by Joe Public after it’s made illegal, they don’t care enough to bother. Whatever stories and myths are floating around will stay there in the public knowledge and can never be corrected.

    After seeing how the current drugs laws have ended up and exactly how they ended up that way has made me appreciate facts ever so much and I just can't imagine how some of the modules on the course can be based on fact when so little is known by anybody.

    The one particular class I was most worried about was the protest group from Roscommon. These people have never, ever come into contact with drugs before in their entire lives and if they did they didn't notice, the word 'drug' on its own sends a shiver down their spines. For these people to sit through a class about the horrors and mostly negative prospects of these drugs is like waving a red flag at a bull. One of the group was in the crowd on a documentary about the headshops and he said something about kids in Roscommon were definitely not sitting around sniffing glue in response to a comment about how if these weren't available they'd be doing something else. That's how naive they are. They think there was no drugs in Roscommon before the headshop arrived and they need to be made aware that Mephedrone will join all the other drugs that “aren’t there” once it’s banned. Sorry gone a little OT here…

    Do you for instance teach them empathy by explaining to them that because someone uses drugs they aren’t instantly evil and that they shouldn’t change their opinion of that person? Do you explain to them that the majority of people who use drugs do so without any ill effect, that normal people do indeed take drugs and don’t end up brainless? These couple of basic facts should be required so that they can process the rest of the information in context.

    I think a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing in this scenario :(

    I did notice you have quite the experience with addiction and drugs, but can I ask you one question... have you ever consumed a drug solely for recreational purposes? Just curious, I understand if you decline to answer.

    I noticed you did training for Simon Communities. I know a person working there and from their personal experiences what they are dealing with in comparison to people outside of Dublin isn’t on the same level at all. There are heroin addicts overdosing on the headshop products via IV needles, this is something you will not find in very many places in the world, people injecting a completely unknown substance (definitely to them and ‘bath salts’ in general could contain anything) directly into their blood. This is inconceivable to anyone not closely familiar with heroin addiction. But I imagine your course is the same for the Gardai serving the streets of Dublin and to the group of concerned parents in Roscommon. The point I’m trying to make is that when introduced to all of these concepts together, people will naturally relate them all to one another and so in the future, any drugs = needles in their minds, using drugs = killing yourself, drugs = harmful. This is a stigma people who chose to safely enjoy drugs can do without in my opinion.

    Again I'd like to apologise for the personal attack in my original post, that was cheap. It’s very late and I’m slightly intoxicated so I hope this doesn’t come across standoffish, I’m simply telling you my own personal concerns, these are the thoughts of me alone and not of the board in general.

    Edit: You're up early for work on Easter Sunday ;)
  9. sean_learningcurveinst
    Hello Johndoe,

    Just to repond to the main points you raised in your last posting regarding The workshop on Headshops Substances that The Learning Curve Institute run.

    The first point to raise is that in sourcing information about any substance which we discuss we try to be as broad as possible in finding useable information. We have found this difficult, and in fact if we were to rely on Irish information sources alone we probably would never have been able to deliver this course. We normally print out and hand to the participants copies of "Understanding the Spice Phenomenon", "Mephedrone - an update on current knowledge", we cannot print and hand over any information which we are not sure has come from a reputable source, or seems to represent judgment laden views. While there is nothing stopping us from doing just that, we would never do this as we are not about hyping this issue as this will not help the attendees who look to us for advice and support in dealing with their service users.

    We feel at this point that a lot of hype exists about this issue and in fact we aim to dispel the associated myths and untruths as much as is possible. We do not need to rely on sensational myths in order to complete these sessions, some of these concerns will become apparent throughout the sessions and this allows us the opportunity to facilitate discussion around the fact versus myths which exist in relation to headshop products and headshops in general. As with all drugs education work, myths and untruths have the potential to damage the relationship people are trying hard to develop with the affected individual, who are at the end of the day "ordinary people", like the ones we know and love in our personal lives.

    In answer to your second point, the modules are mostly focused on the skills necessary to work with people who are affected by or actually under the influence of any substance, this same skill-set is essential to employ regardless of the actual substance used. At the very heart of this set of skills is empathy. You are spot on in your assertion that without the ability to empathise with an individual in need of assistance, you really will not get too far with them as they will probably sense this and lose respect for you and essentially not bother to seek your assistance or advice again. Also your other point is spot on... according to our own Governments statistics... in fact (approx) 9 out of 10 people who ever use illicit drugs will just stop using with little or no intervention, or harm.

    In response to your third point; your question as to whether we at The LCI have ever used substances for recreational purposes was a little out of order we feel. The reason I say this is because I believe it is one thing to openly discuss drug use on internet forums using an anonymous name, it is entirely different to do so with your name and business openly stated. This is a question I have become very accustomed to in my 17 years of working with people affected by drug and alcohol use. When it arises in a group setting I like to let people know that within a group of people probably a third will respect the facilitator more if they say they have used, a third will lose respect for them and the remaining third probably don't really care.

    In response to your fourth point; your point that people do see drug use or experimentation as being something that gradually disintegrates a persons life from "Young Johnny using spliff (or spice or whatever) naturally leads to Young Johnny using Coke (or Mephedrone or whatever) to Young Johnny ending up injecting Heroin (or whatever)" is unfortunately an opinion which is very prevelant in society (not just Ireland). We provide government stats, as mentioned earlier to dispel this myth.

    Combining the work experience of both facilitators who run this workshop, there is represented over 30 years of face to face experience of working with people who use various substances, with various outcomes. We recognise that one of the greatest risks to a person who chooses to use an illegal substance is the criminal consequences which can sometimes exacerbate the persons use and lead to losses at a personal level that, generally, far outweigh the risk to their health. We also recognise that the legal status of any psychotropic substance means very little to an individual who wants to experience an altered state.

    We welcome this opportunity to outline where we are coming from with this workshop and would invite anyone with a vested interest in this to come to one of our workshops (The next one takes place in Athlone on April 30th), as everyone who attends brings with them experience and views which all add to the learning experience.

    Thanks for reading and I apologize if it is sometimes badly written and rambling!

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