23 October 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

A second public meeting on drugs-related issues held in the Teach na nDaoine Family Resource Centre last Wednesday night saw an enthusiastic response from the local Mullaghmatt and Cortolvin community to the proposal to form a local task force committee to examine ways of addressing the problem.

Many members of the large attendance signed on to participate in the task force at the conclusion of a meeting that was distinguished by the high number of young people present. One teenage speaker said there needed to be a voice for young adults on any body that was formed.

“We need to have our opinion put forward,” she stated. “The adults don’t know half of what the young people are going through.” Garda Superintendent Noel Cunningham responded to criticisms made at the initial meeting of the actions being taken by the Gardaí to address drugs problems in the town with a robust defence of his force, stating that neither he nor any member of the Gardaí in Monaghan were “soft” in relation to the problem. Superintendent Cunningham said that while local Gardaí had made seizures of substances known as “legal highs” such as Clockwork Orange, they were unable to take prosecutions in relation to them, as the substances they contained were not prohibited under current legislation.

The Superintendent disagreed with an argument presented to the meeting by Mr Tim Murphy of Cavan/Monaghan Drugs Awareness that legislation introduced in 2012 to deal with psychoactive substances gave the Gardaí blanket powers to act against such products. Superintendent Cunningham encouraged local people to come together as a community to address drugs concerns and to work with members of the health and social services and the Gardaí, stating that no one agency alone could solve this problem. At the outset of the meeting, its chairperson Packie Kelly said they needed to move the issue they were facing as a community on, and pull a group or vehicle together that might work to alleviate the problems of drugs, policing and other issues within the community.

Expressing thanks for the invitation to be present, Garda Superintendent Cunningham said he knew that a very unfortunate incident had brought about these recent meetings, and his sympathies went out to the McQuade family. He had no problem in attending the meeting – he believed it was an opportunity for the Gardaí to open dialogue and conversation, and to work with the community to put together something constructive. He would answer any questions posed, and if he did not know the answer he would come back to the community on that issue.

Superintendent Cunningham thought this was a golden opportunity for the community to listen to him, and more importantly for him to listen to the community. If it was a situation that the meeting was going to be a roaring and shouting match, they would waste their time and that would not achieve anything. It had taken an awful lot of energy and enthusiasm for the people present to come out on a cold night, and this energy and enthusiasm should be harnessed and they should use it constructively. He understood people were angry and probably frustrated, and wanted to vent that anger at times. He had sent a young Sergeant to the previous week’s meeting, and he believed he had done a good job. The Sergeant had brought back some questions to him, and he had statistics in relation to what the Gardaí were doing.

Superintendent Cunningham said the Gardaí provided a policing function, and would police what could be policed. They responded to the public’s calls and dealt with them. There were a lot of people in Mullaghmatt, Cortolvin and the general area of Monaghan Town who were very satisfied at the way the Gardaí dealt with queries, and there were some who were not so happy, but the Gardaí were not a panacea and a cure for everything. He believed there had been an insinuation at the last meeting that he had suggested at some Council meeting that there were no drugs in Monaghan. He would like some councillor who was present to suggest that he said such a thing – this was utter gibberish. “There are drugs in every single town and parish in Monaghan and Ireland, and the reason for that is that people are buying them,” Superintendent Cunningham told the meeting. These people were not coming down from Newry, Dundalk, Cavan or Carrickmacross to buy drugs – it was the people and the kids in Monaghan who were buying them in Monaghan.


The other problem that had arisen in the town was that of “legal highs”. A ‘head shop’ had opened in Monaghan some time ago, but was closed after legislation was introduced and they were all glad to see that, but unfortunately the materials and items such shops were selling were still available. You could buy them over the Internet or go north and buy them, and unfortunately there were some people who thought it was a good idea to buy quite an amount of them and sell them to their friends to make a profit. The difficulty was that these products were legal – the Gardaí had seized items such as The Joker and Clockwork Orange, sent them for analysis to the laboratory at Garda Headquarters and ..

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