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furious Tragic 'hippy crack' teen's father slams Drug Minister's curbs as "a joke"


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Minister Frank Feighan

Minister Frank Feighan

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THE FATHER of a young man who died from a seizure after apparently inhaling nitrous oxide has slammed measures being taken against the scourge as "a joke".

Alex Ryan Morrissey (15) died on May 20 last year after he was found slumped over a wall in Ballycullen, Dublin.

Alex's parents, Mick Morrissey and Aine Ryan, suspect nitrous oxide - also known as 'hippy crack', 'laughing gas' or 'silver/purple bullets' - was a major contributory factor in their son's tragic death.

Used nitrous oxide canisters can be seen scattered on streets across the country and can be purchased on the black market for €2 to €5 each, giving a 'buzz' lasting around 30 seconds.

The Sunday World was able to buy several canisters of nitrous oxide online. It is used in the catering trade, usually to create foam in soup, sauces and desserts. It is also used in dentistry and medicine, as well as for pumping up bicycle tyres.

When inhaled, it can make people feel euphoric and relaxed. It can also cause some people to have hallucinations but can also cause serious injury and even death.

Drugs Minister Frank Feighan said: "I can confirm that the sale of nitrous oxide is prohibited under existing legislation, and I'm very supportive of the efforts of An Garda Síochana in confiscating supplies of this drug."

The Fine Gael minister added: "I welcome the proactive approach of the HSE and local Drug and Alcohol Taskforces in communicating to parents and youth workers about the dangers associated with nitrous oxide. Specific content on the drug has been provided on drugs.ie and communications are ongoing, and social media advertisements aimed at parents will continue throughout the summer months."

He added: "I'm pleased to report that nitrous oxide was included in the Irish module as part of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction EU Web Survey in March 2021. The survey will provide data on who is using this drug and will inform targeted awareness campaigns to minimise its use."

But tragic Alex's father Mick slammed the measures as "a joke".

"They are still everywhere and now I've heard you can get that s**t in big cans like a bottle of hairspray too - it seems like there has been nothing done about them," raged Mick.

"The Government doesn't care, it's a joke. You would think with all that I've done they would listen, but I bet if it was a minister's child there be plenty done about it!"

Mick claims the problem is "out of control" and agrees the good weather appears to lead to even more abuse of nitrous oxide on the street and at parties.

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"I would like to know are they actually going to do anything about it or is he [Minister Feighan] just going to let it go over his head?" he said.

"I'd like to ask him why is it so easy to get hold of these things if they're on his banned list, but everywhere you go they are lying around. I even picked them up out of my front garden last week."

The family is awaiting the results of Alex's post mortem.

"I've been told there was something else in Alex's system so I won't know until we go to the coroner," said Mick.

He previously slammed the free availability of the drug.

"It is very worrying that this highly dangerous substance can be readily bought on the internet, as proved by what the Sunday World has done," Mick said.

Gardai have seized batches of the substance in various raids, usually along with quantities of drugs. In one seizure early last year in Kilcock, Co Kildare, 984 canisters were found, along with a quantity of ketamine.

"The selling of nitrous oxide canisters for human consumption is an offence contrary to Section 3 of the Psychoactive Substance Act 2010 and poses serious risks to health," said a garda spokesman.

Several Premier League players from Arsenal, including Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Matteo Guendouzi, were spoken to by club officials in December 2018 after they were pictured appearing to inhale hippy crack from balloons in a nightclub.

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Minister Frank Feighan

Minister Frank Feighan

Minister Frank Feighan

Dublin South West Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe has been trying to bring legislation into the Dail to restrict the sale of the substance.

"This awful incident comes on top of me and others seeing the streets littered with these canisters and the effect they are having on young people," Deputy Crowe told the Sunday World.

"There need to be awareness as most people don't even know what they are and the danger of this emerging drug. There needs to be a campaign to stop them getting into young people's hands. My local drugs task force is trying to combat it."

He said while gardai can seize the canisters there are usually no repercussions.

"They have to get proof there is legitimate use for them," Deputy Crowe said.

"I've been contacted by parents across the country, from Longford to Cork to Limerick, who are all alarmed about their children taking this stuff after Alex's death," he revealed.

"My heart goes out to Mick and Aine."

Alex's parents have set up a community group to raise awareness about hippy crack and other drugs and will go to schools to speak about their son's death.

"You can't be taking these things, they're too young, these are dangerous," warned Aine. "People are burying their children for a fiver and live with this heartache forever."

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