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Action Angry residents insist they are not vigilantes after alleged heroin dealer forced to flee home

Residents defend protest outside home of suspected dealer

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Tarlach MacDhonaill, left, in the Waterworks in north Belfast

Tarlach MacDhonaill, left, in the Waterworks in north Belfast

Tarlach MacDhonaill, left, in the Waterworks in north Belfast

Angry residents have insisted they are not vigilantes after an alleged heroin dealer was forced to flee her home.

Locals in north Belfast defended their actions just days after they staged a protest outside the home of a suspected dealer, claiming it was their last resort to protect their community and their children.

And images from the area back up their claims, showing spaced-out addicts 'nodding' in the street and deals taking place in broad daylight.

Residents want to clean up the Waterworks Park area that has become a hangout for addicts, leaving mothers afraid to take their kids to the park.

Last weekend a large number of men and women gathered outside a house in Oldpark Avenue where it is claimed a suspected heroin dealer lives and operates her deadly trade.

The woman is believed to have now left the area after the concerned group of neighbours and members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) staged a peaceful protest outside the front door of the house she obtained from the Housing Executive.

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Drug dealing in broad daylight

Drug dealing in broad daylight

Drug dealing in broad daylight

 

One resident and mum of three spoke to the Sunday World of her fears for the future and her reason not to be pictured as she fears for reprisals and her children's safety.

"As a parent you try and keep your kids on the straight and narrow, like other parents here in north Belfast I am afraid. We are not vigilantes, we're trying to highlight what is going on here peacefully.

"People are even afraid to use their local amenities such as the park because of what is happening up here," Seanna told Sunday World.

"The Waterworks is a lovely green space but you are afraid to bring your kids there because there are people there, young ones, that are obviously on drugs.

"There are needles lying about, shards everywhere. You know yourself, kids pick up everything, they fall, it's just too dangerous," she said.

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A drugged-up addict on the streets of north Belfast

A drugged-up addict on the streets of north Belfast

A drugged-up addict on the streets of north Belfast

 

Shocking images and videos of young people lying on the street and staggering about in a zombie-like state have left her terrified.

"It's sickening and frightening. I've seen them lying by the bins, the needles and I feel sorry the people who have to clean them up. We have had enough and all the community has the same take. The PSNI are not doing enough.

"Why are they not targeting the dealers - they have been shown the footage of the drug deals taking place in broad daylight, why not target them and make an arrest?

"This is why the community came together to make a stand but it should be the local bodies dealing with this not us. It is not my way to target vulnerable people. I have pity for addicts and I know the girl who was subject to the protest has problems too.

"I have sympathy for people with an addiction and I wish they could get the help they need but they can't be dealing on the streets, shooting up on the streets and nothing is done about it. I'm terrified that if something is not done it will take hold and we will have a massive problem like Dublin or London, we don't want our community ruined by this," she said.

She thanks her lucky stars the addicts are not one of her own children but knows that could always change.

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Tarlach MacDhonaill during the protest

Tarlach MacDhonaill during the protest

Tarlach MacDhonaill during the protest

 

"Thankfully this has not come to my door but as they say, never say never. I'm afraid that my children could be targeted, all parents I have spoken to feel the same way.

"They fear that there is the potential. I fear we're fighting a losing battle.

"I'm also afraid to have my name and picture in the paper because I'm afraid of the comeback. There are bigger people behind the ones on the streets selling drugs," she added.

Tarlach MacDhonaill from the IRSP - who are regarded as the political wing of the INLA - says he was shocked by how bad the drug problem in the north of the city was and Seanna's fears are widely shared.

"I knew there was a problem with drugs, heroin in particular around the Waterworks but until I was asked to get involved in this I didn't know how bad it actually was.

"It's a big problem.

"Overall the situation with drugs here is really bad," Tarlach told the Sunday World.

"The residents got in contact with us after seeing footage of a similar protest that took part in the Beechmount area where residents, supported by ourselves, took to the streets to get dealers out."

He added: "They saw that was successful so they thought it was worth a try, they had exhausted every other option - Sinn Féin, the SDLP and CRJ (Community Restorative Justice)."

Like Seanna, he fears this will escalate completely out of control and more lives will be lost through suicide and overdose.

"What we are dealing with here is really bad, the worst in Belfast. I couldn't believe how blatant the dealing was. I mean it is nine o-clock in the morning stuff and people are off their mallets.

Defending criticism and claims they behaved like vigilantes, Tarlach says the residents were compassionate about the woman's situation and at no stage was the protest less than peaceful.

"Our main line is anti-eviction but in this case we had exhausted all avenues," he said.

He added: "We had to be careful though, we can't fight eviction and be part of one next but in this situation the tenancy agreement was massively in breach and the house had to be vacated.

"Someone in need should get it not someone to use as a drug den," he said.

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