Community remembers heroin victims

AN inner-city community last night lit up a Christmas tree commemorating 180 people who lost their lives through heroin.

Stars representing the 180 locals - mainly young people - decorate the tree, on Sean McDermott Street, in Dublin’s north inner city.

Ten new stars have been put on the tree this year, reflecting the continuing impact of the various heroin epidemics to hit the area.

According to Paddy Malone of the Inner City Organisations Network (ICON), this year’s deaths are different to those in previous years.

“Some of the people who are dying now are dying as a result of abuse in the 80s, from hepatitis and HIV.”

The fatal diseases were contracted through the sharing of infected needles among addicts.

“It’s a long-term thing and that’s a difficult thing for people. They think they’ve solved the thing and it comes back at them.”

But he said the good news was that there were no stars this year for young people who had died.

“If you go back to 1996, it was mainly young people. We had a sudden influx of heroin. There was a lot of overdoses and suicides.” Those dying now, he said, were in their late 30s.

He said there was still a big problem in the area. “Cocaine is now the number one choice. We’ve not seen any deaths, but there has been a lot of psychotic behaviour. Cocaine puts people into severe bouts of depression and there’s no medical treatment, unlike heroin.”

Across the city in Crumlin, 110 angels hung from another Christmas tree, again reflecting deaths in the area from heroin.

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