Pubdate: 4 March 1999 
Source: An Phoblacht/Republican News (Ireland)
Copyright: 1999 Phoblacht/Republican News
Author: Dan O'Neill


The Falls Community Council (FCC) has expressed concern at a decision
by Belfast City Council to exclude a number of prominent drug
awareness community representatives from a major council meeting on
the emerging drug problem, while inviting the RUC to attend the event.

Sean Paul O'Hare of the FCC Drug Awareness Unit criticised the lack of
community representation at the event. He said: ``I find it strange
that the organisers of the meeting have not informed many of the
community workers who are trying to develop a local response to the
ongoing problems of drug misuse, yet they saw fit to invite the RUC to
the event, despite their ineffective approach to the drugs problem in
West Belfast. It is widely believed in the community that the RUC has
used known drug dealers as informants to work for them.''

Mr O'Hare continued: `` It is rather ironic that the guest speaker,
Torqny Peterson who is a director of European Cities Against Drugs,
should endorse a policy where local community involvement has to be to
the fore of any drug awareness strategy yet there was little or no
representation from the community to hear his progressive speech.

``In order to curb the growing threat of drug misuse,'' added O'Hare,
``we must all share and learn from others who have the necessary
experience and skills. The debate on drug misuse reduction is one
which has to be all-inclusive and cannot be left to a select and
exclusive few. If the City Council is considering developing an
awareness strategy we hope it will consult with those who work at a
community level and not only those at statutory level.''

O'Hare also welcomed the call from Mr Peterson on the need for local
community involvement in the development of a drug awareness strategy.

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