Senior Garda admits they cannot prosecute sale of killer 'legal highs'

Clockwork Orange, which has been designed to mimic the effects of cannabis
Clockwork Orange, which has been designed to mimic the effects of cannabis

A senior Garda with the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau has told RTE's Prime Time that they have a problem prosecuting cases involving some legal highs.

Detective Inspector Tony Howard was told RTE's Prime Time tonight that they cannot pursue a prosecution for the sale and possession of the some psychoactive substances.

"We have an issue with some New Psychoactive Substances," he said "because the legislation has done a major job on closing down the industry however there are certain proofs we need for the courts and one of them is to prove they are psychoactive.”

The substance at the centre of the controversy is called Clockwork Orange and it has been linked to the deaths of two young men in Monaghan 

Only five prosecutions have been succesful under the The Psychoactive Substances Act as the substances must be proven to be psychoactive.

Det Insp Howard tells RTÉ Prime Time, “with Clockwork Orange, which I am very aware of,  there is an issue, but it’s not just an issue here in this jurisdiction, there’s very little international research around that particular drug, so yes there is an issue with that particular drug.”

When asked how they can get a prosecution, he says: 

Well at the moment we can’t, but it is only a matter of time before the Department of health bring it in as a controlled drug, under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which is our primary legislation for dealing with illicit drugs here in Ireland.”

The programme also speaks to one former user of Clockwork Orange who talks about the experience of using the substance. 

“It just pans you out. You don’t want to move you don’t want to talk. It’s hard enough keeping your eyes concentrating on the telly and what’s going on around you. Then when you don’t have it, it’s just, a total different person. The whole paranoia sets in, anxiety. It makes you feel very sick.”
Sharon McQuaid, whose son PJ’s death has been connected to the use of Clockwork Orange, said: “I blame the Gardai to a certain extent because they know who is selling it and maybe their hands are tied or whatever, I blame myself too because as a mother I should have known, should have done something but at the end of the day I blame myself for PJ, for everything that has gone on, but if the Gardai had been tougher it wouldn’t have been as easy to get this stuff.”
Minister of State with responsibility for the Drugs Strategy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin T.D. also responds to the concerns being expressed in the report.

"We have an issue in this country in relation to Psychoactive Substances, I’m not going to give terminology that is going to give effect to people thinking that the message is coming out from Government that legitimises in any way sale of use of these substances but what I am saying is that legislation being prepared will be extremely robust, the heads of this bill have already been published and it will be enacted early next year."