Anger over toddler drug find in south Belfast
AN area in south Belfast where a two-year-old toddler discovered a bag of drugs is a well known spot to try and avoid police detection according to a local residents' group.
Gerard Rice, of the Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group, said that police had made a number of arrests regarding the sale of drugs in the area in recent months and branded those responsible as "thoughtless".
It is believed that a bag containing suspected mephedrone was left on a garden fence which backs onto an alleyway between Essex Grove and Powers Court overnight to be collected by another party.
The youngster, who was playing in the garden, brought the bag to a parent who then passed it on to the residents' group.
Mr Rice said that the community was outraged that a toddler was put in such danger and that it was extremely lucky that the child wasn't hurt.
"There has been a huge level of discussion between us and the local residents about how to make sure an incident like this doesn't occur again.
"We know that the layout of the area in question has been used to try and avoid police detection in the past but someone has had to open fences and cross gardens to access this area – it didn't just blow through and land there.
"For someone to do that they must have local knowledge and must then know that there are children and vulnerable toddlers living in the area.
"To leave drugs openly in this way is completely thoughtless and shows a lack of respect for everyone in this community," he added.
The group has since distributed leaflets to houses in the area to raise awareness of ongoing drug dealing.
Laganbank Sinn Féin Councillor Deirdre Hargey said she was "angry" that a child was put in grave danger by people who seek only to "make profit from other people's misery".
The incident will no doubt be a major talking point at the upcoming South Belfast Policing & Community Partnership meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, September 20.
The event, in the Crescent Arts Centre at 7pm, has been organised as a result of growing concern over the availability of legal highs and rising reports of sudden drug related deaths locally. Members of the PSNI and FASA will be making presentations as well as offering support and help to residents.
Niall Kelly, an Independent member of the South Belfast Policing & Community Safety Partnership, said the meeting was timely.
"The issue of drug use and abuse is not just specific to south Belfast; the evidence is there that there is widespread problem across all of Belfast.
"The subject of legal highs has raised questions for many concerned parents and young people who maybe feel misinformed and this meeting is aimed at trying to offer support and help to the whole community.
"When you hear of concerning incidents like the one involving a child you realise that this is a very timely meeting and we are very lucky we are not talking about something a lot worse."