THE owner of a store selling so-called legal highs yesterday claimed his head shop had been burned down in an arson attack.
Jim Bellamy, owner of Nirvana on Capel Street in Dublin’s north inner city, said the attack stemmed from “disgusting media coverage” in recent weeks.
Some residents in the area spoke of hearing an explosion just before the fire broke out, at around 6.30am.
Fire units spent much of yesterday trying to bring the fire under control, blocking off a very busy street.
Mr Bellamy told Newstalk radio his shop had been targeted and blamed the media: “Somebody has taken the law into their own hands by the disgusting media coverage of the last month or so.
“We have been tried by the media, found guilty – and this is the sentence.”
Nearby flats had to be evacuated. Resident Donal Mooney said: “I heard a petrol tank exploding, that kind of thing.”
The fire spread to two adjoining shops, including the sex shop Utopia 2.
Five units of the Dublin Fire Brigade attended the blaze.
Firefighters had to break through a number of walls in the Nirvana shop to get to the source of the fire, at the rear of the premises.
Residents in the area have complained about antisocial behaviour outside the shop, particularly in recent months after it started selling legal highs through a hatch overnight at weekends.
Paddy Reilly of C&R Fireplaces, nearby to Nirvana, said the street was “very rowdy”.
He said the head shop opened till 4am and that people felt unsafe going back to their apartments at night. Controversy has raged in recent weeks over head shops, with parents venting their concern and anger on the Joe Duffy radio show and organising protests outside head stores in some parts of the country.
Drugs Minister John Curran has said he was personally in favour of banning the drugs.
He is heading an inter-departmental committee to examine legal options available.
Health Minister Mary Harney said she planned to ban a number of substances in head shops by June.
A Garda spokeswoman said the fire was “under investigation”.
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