Pubdate: Thursday 12 February 1998 
Source: An Phoblacht/Republican News 

Young people in some areas of Counties Monaghan, Cavan and Meath are now
"chasing the dragon" - smoking heroin - in a serious extension of a crisis
that was for long confined to the capital. 

This spread of heroin abuse outside Dublin was highlighted last week in
County Monaghan where the community in Carrickmacross organised a public
meeting in response to local concern at the growth of the problem. One of
those who addressed the meeting on 5 February was Johnny McCullagh of
Kingscourt, County Cavan, father of the late Tony McCullagh who died as a
result of drug abuse. Johnny McCullagh told the meeting that there were
drug dealers operating in the area and that he had been threatened by them. 

The well-attended meeting, which was chaired by Tom Hughes of
Carrickmacross, was addressed by two recovering heroin addicts from Dublin,
Paul and Dave, who impressed all those present with their graphic
description of the reality of heroin abuse. 

Sinn Fein Councillor Owen Smyth, chair of County Monaghan VEC Drugs
Awareness Sub-Committee, said vigilance was needed to halt the spread of
the drugs scourge and urged the community to organise to combat the
problem. Other elected representatives from both Sinn Fein and Fine Gael
were present.

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain told the meeting: "The profits being
generated for a handful of individuals from this deadly drugs trade rival
those of the biggest commercial enterprises in the land. As they are
further restricted in their activities by tighter legislation and more
vigilant policing, they will widen their field of activities and target
young people outside the areas hitherto worst affected. 

"But we have the opportunity to prevent it. Comprehensive action on
education and prevention is absolutely essential and I stress this in
particular in areas outside Dublin where the drugs problem is growing.
There must first be an urgent and concerted effort by the Department of
Health, in co-operation with other relevant bodies, to measure the extent
of the problem outside Dublin, the areas of the country most at risk and
the measures needed for effective prevention and control." 

He called for a "united, community-led response" involving all the
agencies. A committee was established at the meeting to address the