An anti-drugs campaigner has criticised Eddie Irvine after the motor racing legend backed the legalisation of drugs and welcomed the release from prison of a notorious Pablo Escobar associate.
Northern Irish multi-millionaire Irvine recently posted a picture on Instagram of Colombian cocaine king Escobar alongside fellow drug lord, and Eddie's neighbour on the Caribbean island of Norman's Cay, Carlos Lehder.
The picture carried the caption: "Good to see my neighbour just got released from federal prison. #carloslehder #normanscay . #exuma legalise drugs then we won't have drug smugglers. "
North Down-born ex-Formula 1 star Irvine (54) added: "The war on drugs has failed and it's costing everyone a fortune in ruined lives and $ .#educate"
Lehder was a prolific and notorious German-Colombian former drugs kingpin and co-founder of the feared Medellín Cartel alongside Pablo Escobar.
He was released from federal prison last month to travel to Germany for treatment on a relapse of his prostate cancer.
Anti-drugs campaigner William Burns, from Belfast, lost his son Jamie in 2016 after the 23-year-old took a pill on a night out. He has become an anti-drugs advocate who seeks to educate young people about the dangers of recreational drugs and is shocked by Eddie's comments.
He said: "I am lost for words that someone that high up in society would actually write that down. The problem is drugs are one of those things that unless it affects your family or friends you don't really understand.
"So these people that say we should legalise drugs, would they say that to a grieving family who has lost a loved one to drugs?
"In my case my son died because he took one pill, it's something nobody gives thought to until it affects them.
"I have been going round giving talks in communities, youth clubs and so on for the last three years and the simple facts some of these young people don't realise is shocking. Coke dealers mixing Fentanyl into their drugs for example. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and they come up to me afterwards and say 'here is that really true about coke?'."
The ardent campaigner made the news in 2017 when he put up a large banner on Twaddell Avenue as part of the 1 Pill Will Kill campaign. The 52-year-old says he is now in discussions to get another mural erected in east Belfast.
He added: "It's definitely irresponsible for him (Eddie Irvine) to say that, I definitely feel that a man in his position should know better about saying stuff like that.
"I don't know what kind of life he has had, I'm sure it's very different to mine, he's one of those people I would like to take into a hospital on a Saturday night or to the home of a grieving family who has just lost a loved one.
"Tell them drugs should be legal. Until you experience this you don't understand how easy you can be here one moment and gone the next."