Northern Ireland

Drugs 'kill about 100 people a year in Northern Ireland'

Edwin Poots
Image caption Edwin Poots has said around 100 people die each year in Northern Ireland after ingesting drugs.

The Health Minister Edwin Poots has said around 100 people each year are dying as a result of drugs misuse.

Mr Poots has blamed paramilitary groups for permitting the sale of drugs in local communities.

The announcement comes following the death of a 42-year-old man on Friday. It is believed he took a type of yellow ecstasy known as 'speckled Rolex' at a house party in Belfast.

Four other men were hospitalised following the party.

One man remains in hospital while the other three have now been released.

The man who died has been named locally as Gerard Mulholland.

Paramilitary involvement

Mr Poots told BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan show that communities needed to stand up to drug dealers.

"I would expect that the people who provide these drugs are known within the community," he said.

"They operate with impunity because they will pay paramilitary organisations a cut of the money and therefore they are able to sell within our communities.

"Two people die each week as a result of ingesting drugs, that's around 100 a year."

Mr Poots said that dissident republicans and dissident loyalists were "permitting the sale of drugs" within their communities.

"These people are traitors to their communities and they need to be removed from our communities," he said.

"The community need to stand up and say enough is enough.

"We do not want drug dealers on our streets and we do not support those who permit them to be there."

Illegal drugs

Police have encouraged anyone who may be in possession of the speckled rolex tablets to dispose of them safely.

"While we are not in a position to confirm that this death was caused by drugs misuse, we would again call on the public to heed warnings about the dangers of taking illegal drugs.

"Again we would stress to everyone who pursues this lifestyle to think very carefully about what they are doing. These drugs can be any colour, any shape and any size.

"They can have any motif or design printed on them. They are illegal because they are harmful. Taking illegal substances can put your life at risk.

"We would ask anyone who is aware of any individual involved in the supply of controlled drugs to contact their local police."

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