Drugs are 'still an issue' - Cllr. Monica Digney

SIR - First of all, I would like to thank everyone who contacted me to offer their support; it is greatly appreciated. I am writing this to ensure that there are no misunderstandings about my motion to Council about drugs in Ballymena.

Monday, 15th March 2010, 7:27 am
Updated Monday, 22nd March 2010, 7:54 am

Never did I dismiss the work already done to deal with the heroin problem in the town. In fact I said that the council carries out “important work in this field” and commended all the staff involved.

Sinn Fin did not invent this problem. We have had, though, countless constituents who have demanded to know what we are doing about it.

At two packed public meetings in Ballymena victims outlined their views that not enough is being done to tackle the drugs problem, and that statutory agencies and public representatives needed to come together to pool their collective power. That is what my motion was about; that a united council could thus lobby government departments for adequate resources to deal with the scale of the drugs problem.

An expert in drug rehabilitation remarked to me that nobody wakes up in the morning and decides: “Today I am going to become a heroin addict”. Yet this borough has the highest number of such users in the North, we need to start asking why?

The PSNI stated that over 70% of local crime can be traced back to drugs.

Families are suffering, business is suffering, and yes, the good name of the town is suffering. And none of that will change if we ignore it in the hopes it will simply go away.

Some councilors remarked that they did not want to make party politics out of this issue and they are absolutely right; neither do I.

After all, heroin dealers don’t ask you what party you vote for, what religion if any you are, or what area you grew up in, they just want to exploit and use people for money. So I would hope that no one would resist a motion because of the identity of the party bringing it. Because it may not be a party political issue, but it is still an issue.

Yours, Cllr. Monica Digney.