A Rathcoole community worker is calling on the people of the estate to join him in standing up to “scumbag” drug dealers.
Phil Hamilton (35) has been the subject of intimidation since he called on residents to shop the dealers to the police eight weeks ago.
He received a death threat, ordering him to leave Rathcoole within 48 hours and last week his car was damaged outside his Mournebeg Drive home — twice. If anything, the attacks have strengthened his resolve to stand up to the criminals.
“These scumbags are poisoning our kids. From December to February I had to refer six young people to FASA or Lifeline. Two of them were in such a state they were ready to commit suicide,” he said.
“I just had enough. I thought someone has to stand up to these people. If the parents know who they are they need to tell the police.”
Mr Hamilton says people may not be aware of the degree of suffering that some of the drug users are enduring. “I’ve had young people phone me in a terrible state, like wee babies crying and saying ‘help me, help me’. It’s awful,” he added.
He said some of the parents of the youngsters affected would know who the dealers were and that in one case, the parents were buying the drugs for their son because he was so heavily dependent on cannabis.
Mr Hamilton, a PUP candidate for Monkstown, Ballyduff and New Mossley in the forthcoming Newtownabbey Borough Council election, does not believe the drug dealers have paramilitary connections and refuses to be cowed by their activities.
“If they were any kind of people they would come to your door to say they didn’t like what you said but to come under the cover of darkness, it’s such a cowardly thing,” he said.
“The thing that’s really annoyed me is I’m the only one putting my head above the parapet. I want other people to join me — this has to be a cohesive community standing up against this.”
Mr Hamilton, a part-time community development worker at Rathcoole Youth Centre, is running a drug information night at the centre in April which he is inviting the police to attend. “Sometimes when you talk about drug awareness, what you need is to let people know what happens you on the legal side of it,” he said. “I know parents have flushed drugs down the toilet but the police need to know what’s on the street — those drugs could be the last piece of a jigsaw needed to convict someone.”
In the meantime, Mr Hamilton, who lives with his partner and young daughter, says he has no intention of moving away. “I’m proud to live and work in Rathcoole,” he said.