Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds take to streets to protest over Lisburn drugs blight

By Victoria O'Hara

Hundreds of people protested against drug dealers stalking their housing estate on Wednesday night.

Around 200 people staged a silent vigil in Lisburn’s Knockmore estate against the drug dealers blighting their community, and anti-social behaviour that has spun out of PSNI’s control.

Community workers say that up to 20 dealers and drug runners — aged in their late teens and early 20s — are operating there.

Mothers said they were being “terrorised” by drug dealers for speaking out against the gangs.

One anti-drugs mother-of-five had her home attacked three times within the past month.

Another told how dealers were blackmailing children in a situation she described as “every parents’ nightmare”.

“There is a fear of intimidation, being singled out, our children being bullied into the drugs scene,” she said.

“The children can be given a small amount, then owe the dealer who then bullies them into pushing the drugs.

“The children are not getting a chance. There are drugs paraphernalia on the streets. It has devastated the whole community.

“We want to feel safe.”

Alastair McLaren (18), who lived in the estate, took his own life after telling friends he could not escape from drug dealers.

Police have recently carried out several raids — seizing quantities of drugs, stun guns and balaclavas — and made arrests.

However, they have been unable to bring the problem under control.

Another mother said: “There needs to be tougher legislation to deal with these people. It is not just the housing estates in Lisburn. More people have to realise it could be any of our children, no matter what our social circumstances are. There seems to be no fear in the dealers — that needs to change.”

UDA leader Jackie McDonald attended and praised residents for “standing up” to the dealers.

“Our young people are very, very vulnerable because of lack of education, no job prospects and low self-esteem. They are cannon-fodder for these dealers,” he said.

Jonathan Craig MLA said the vigil sent a “united” message.

“The entire community are standing strongly together and will not be deterred by the scourge of drugs and those individuals who are preying on our young people,” he said.”

If you have been affected by suicide, or would like to speak to someone about the issue, call The Samaritans' confidential phoneline on 08457 90 90 90.

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