A North Belfast community worker who ‘thought he had seen it all’ has spoken of his horror at finding a local child snorting cocaine.
Fernando Murphy, a youth worker saw the 13 year-old taking the Class A drug on an Ardoyne street a fortnight ago. Shortly after his shocking discovery, he found another 13 year-old smoking a bong in the same area.
Fernando who has worked with young people for over 16 years said he, ‘never thought anything could get to me the way this has’ before an emotional plea to parents and drug dealers on the issue.‘I want to make a plea to the drug dealers to stop selling drugs to kids, because they are ruining lives for the sake of a few pounds’.
Parents also need to know what is going on in Ardoyne. Some of them seem to think letting their kids drink in the street is okay because they know where they are. But standing about drinking only leads to trying to take drugs and eventually anti-social behaviour’.
Fernando, who was with a trainee youth worker when he witnessed the drug taking, said the student was so shocked by these incidents, she considered giving up youth work altogether, a reaction he said he understood.
Fernando said drug dealers in the area were deliberately targeting young people. ‘Drugs are commonplace in many social circles but this age group is far too young to be dealing with these effects. My own son is nearly 11 – I can’t help thinking if this sort of situation is going to affect him?’
Justine Brown, Health Officer with the North Belfast Partnership supported Fernando’s plea. ‘It has been quite well documented there has been an increase locally in younger folk drinking. Then this leads to more risk-taking behaviour ie: drug taking and sexual activity. It is certainly a growing issue in disadvantaged and deprived communities and is a lot to do with boredom’.