Three potential convictions for possession of harmful drugs were struck out by the State, due to an anomaly in the current status of the substances, at Galway District Court.
Emergency legislation had to be introduced following a decision last week by the Court of Appeal regarding a challenge to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.
The case dealt with the powers of the Government to control substances which are harmful to human health under Section 2 (2) of the Act.
This affected the possession of certain newer psychoactive substances which have been added to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 by successive governments, but did not affect the legality of so-called ‘older drugs’ such as cannabis, cocaine, or heroin.
However, it has always remained an offence to offer these psychoactive substances for sale or supply.
At Galway District Court last Wednesday, three young men had matters struck out, on instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Alan Creaven (22), of 65 Gleann Rua, Renmore, had the first of his charges struck out for possession of ecstasy, while the State proceeded with the second, for cannabis, and only gave evidence in this regard.
His home was the subject of a search warrant by Gardaí on the evening of July 19 last year. He was found in possession of cannabis, which had a street value of €50.
Judge Mary Fahy remarked to the student that this was a large amount to have for his own use.
“When it involves more than the nominal amount, I adjourn it to see if I can deal with it other than with a conviction,” she told the defendant, and put the matter back to October 19 for preparation of a Garda Behaviour Report.
“You must keep your nose clean,” she warned him.
Another man (24) had his summons, for being in possession of a party drug at Galway Garda Station on February 16 last year, withdrawn on the instructions of the DPP. He was granted free legal aid.
A third defendant had a summons struck out for possession of the same drug at Bridge Street on the same date as the previous defendant. A second matter, for possession of cocaine, was adjourned to May 28 for a special sitting of Galway District Court.
The State successfully defended the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 in the original High Court hearing in March 2014. The matter was appealed to the Court of Appeal, and the Government made preparations for a possible negative outcome.
This included the preparation of emergency legislation to be drafted in the event of a negative outcome for the State. Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, introduced this legislation in the Dáil last week.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.