Seven men from the Waterside area of Londonderry have been threatened by the ‘IRA’ over claims of alleged drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.
The threats are believed to have been made in the last weekend of September and were issued via a group called ‘Time 2 Choose’ based in the Creggan area.
‘Time 2 Choose’ is a recently established project linked to Rosemount Resource Centre who have in recent times mediated between organisations and those accused of drug dealing and anti-social behaviour. The new project is due to be officially launched on Monday, October 21.
John Donnelly from the ‘Time 2 Choose’ programme told the Sentinel his group received the names of seven men from the IRA whom they have accused of continual drug dealing and anti-social behaviour and a statement saying that four of the individuals were to leave the city and another three had been told to ‘change their ways’. The Sentinel understands that the situation has arisen after tensions between the named individuals and the republican grouping spilled over in the Gobnascale district. Mr Donnelly said his group is attempting to mediate between both sides in an effort to prevent attacks been carried out by either side involved in the current row.
“To date, no one has been hurt, shot or expelled and negotiations are continuing between both sides through us to make sure that situation remains the same,” said John Donnelly.
Time 2 Choose say that since their recent inception they have dealt with around 30 similar cases, 90 per cent of which have been resolved. However, John Donnelly told the Sentinel that one vital component of resolving the current hiatus in the Waterside is the continued “name calling” over the murder of Andrew Allen in 2012 which he said is ratcheting up tensions in the area. None of the dead young man’s family are involved in this.
The Sentinel asked Mr Donnelly if he thought it was correct that unaccountable paramilitary groups should be negotiated with in this manner.
He said: “People who come to us reflect that they are being subjected to harrassment from the police and therefore won’t go to them. They see that working class areas have received no benefit from the peace process which is part of the reason many young people are turning to drugs because of a lack of opportunities. There is always a back story to why so many young people are going this way and we are offering education programmes and counselling for them.”
The Sentinel also asked the support worker if there was a place in society for paramilitary groups maiming and killing people.
“As a former member of the republican movement at the height of the Troubles I can say that I don’t agree with it. It doesn’t work in anyway, it simply alienates people and isolates communities,” he said.
Mr Donnelly also said that the use of legal highs, cocaine and prescription drugs are the current drugs of choice in the city and said his group has also seen some evidence of heroin filtering through.