06/11/2007

Loyalist Drug Dealers Are "Scum" Says UPRG

Drug-dealers with paramilitary links have been described as “scum” by a leading member of the UDA’s political ally.

Speaking in the aftermath of the suicide of a teenager driven to self harm by misuse of drugs supplied by paramilitaries, Frankie Gallagher from the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) said those “masquerading as loyalists who are selling drugs are scum”.

He has admitted people with a "UDA background" are involved in drug dealing in north Belfast and also claimed that even women and teenagers were among those dealing in drugs in the Tigers Bay area.

His comments followed the death of a teenager who hanged himself days after taking veterinary tablets.

Mr Gallagher said: "There is one person in particular, there's a number of other people in Tigers Bay…..there's a lot of complex issues."

A doctor from the area has also said the drugs problem was now worse than at any time over the past 30 years.

Dr Sean Donnelly said the situation may be partly due to a greater "freedom" within society because to the peace dividend.

"There's definitely an awful lot more children being presented to me by their parents with the effects of drugs," he said.

The problem has been highlighted by the latest drugs-related tragedy after it emerged that local teenager, Dean Clarke, 16, killed himself after a drugs overdose.

He had earlier spent almost a week in intensive care after taking the overdose - but after being discharged from hospital, he took his own life.

Frankie Gallagher said that the dealers are not 'outsiders': "All of the drug dealing that's going on in Tigers Bay is by people in Tigers Bay. Some of the mothers are actually dealing drugs in Tigers Bay."

He said he accepted that UDA members were involved and added: "The organisation of the UDA is absolutely dedicated and determined no members will be involved in crime or criminality,” he claimed.

The UPRG is an advisory body connected to the Ulster Defence Association, providing advice to them on political matters.

The group is largely a successor to the Ulster Democratic Party, which dissolved in 2001.

(BMcC)


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