Violent undercurrent to Limerick City’s drug problem

first_img TAGSAlan JacquesAna Liffey Drug projectfeaturedheroinlimerickTony Duffin Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Previous articleThis weeks #LimerickPostNext articleAAA called to account over Limerick street collections Alan Jacqueshttp://www.limerickpost.ie Advertisement Limerick Artist ‘Willzee’ releases new Music Video – “A Dream of Peace” Linkedin Twitter NewsLocal NewsViolent undercurrent to Limerick City’s drug problemBy Alan Jacques – February 12, 2015 1922 WhatsApp Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival center_img Print Vanishing Ireland podcast documenting interviews with people over 70’s, looking for volunteers to share their stories THE Ana Liffey Drug Project Mid-West have provided a positive response to substance abuse in the city through its ‘low threshold — harm reduction’ model since opening its doors in 2012. Limerick Post reporter Alan Jacques met with its outreach team who work with some of the city’s estimated 800 heroin users.Rachel Conway, Team Leader and Aoife Marshall, Project Worker with Mid-West Ana Liffey Drug Project. Picture: Don Moloney / Press 22WHILE the profile of heroin users around the country indicates that many become involved in drugs to cope with past traumas and hurts, a more disturbing picture has emerged on the streets of Limerick.At the height of Limerick’s gangland feud, one young man in a disadvantaged city estate made the “conscious decision” to start using heroin as an escape from the vicious cycle of violence in his community. He said he took heroin so as to be considered unreliable and escape pressure to be involved in gangland activity.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up “By using drugs, he would have been considered unreliable by these criminals and was then left alone and not bothered by the gangs. It would have been very difficult for young men in these areas to escape the feud. He thought he would probably get off heroin easily enough, but 10 years on he was still using,” Dawn Russell, Head of Services at Ana Liffey Drug Project told the Limerick Post.The Ana Liffey Drug Project was established as Ireland’s first ‘low threshold – harm reduction’ service during the height of the drugs epidemic that swept through Dublin’s North Inner City area in the early 1980s. The response to heroin use at the time was muddled at best and for those whose lives were being destroyed by substance abuse, the organisation founded by Jesuit priest Frank Brady must have seemed a ray of light in a time of dark despair.Since opening its doors in Limerick in May 2012, Ana Liffey has engaged with the most marginalised members of society and offered a hand of friendship to those who know little other than despair and chaos in their daily lives. The number using heroin in Limerick is estimated at about 800 and, since setting up in Limerick almost three years ago, Ana Liffey has engaged with 460 heroin users in the Mid-West, with all but about 20 of these located in the city.Based in the Fairgreen, the group operates in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary, among people affected by problem substance abuse, their families and the wider community. Currently engaging with around 120 drug users locally, the organisation provides a range of services including assertive outreach, needle and syringe programme, medical services and assessment for residential treatment.The profile of drug users availing of Ana Liffey’s services nationwide is typically 70/30 in favour of men. However, in Limerick, Ana Liffey staff have noted these numbers balance out at 50/50 between the sexes.They have also noted that drug users in Limerick report issues, seemingly unique to the city.Where many drug addicts report violence and abuse in their past, in Limerick, people presenting to the Ana Liffey claim that this threat of violence and abuse is ongoing for them.“Compared to other regions in the country, we get much higher reports of physical attacks in Limerick. Drug users here are facing that threat of violence every day — it’s imminent,” said Ms Russell.“Be it domestic abuse, sexual abuse, violence, intimidation or family feuds, we have seen a trend in Limerick where substance users are particularly vulnerable. We’ve also heard horror stories from women in Limerick about men, often much older men, who appear to be kind and offer to take them in and give them a bed for the night, only later for these women to be opportunistically attacked or abused. It’s a hellish and chaotic existence,” she added.Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, Tony Duffin, agrees that the profile of its clients in the Mid-West region distinguishes it from other areas.Director of Ana Liffey Drug Project, Tony Duffin“Many of the women who access our services in the Mid-West report that they are victims of significant levels of abuse. Often they do not wish to report their experiences to the Gardaí for fear of reprisal from the alleged perpetrators or their associates — either immediately after reporting or in the years to come,” Mr Duffin explains.The situation for men in the region is also concerning, and they too often report being victims of violence.Mr Duffin said that the fear associated with violence could impact on the individual’s ability to make positive choices.“This is highlighted by the experience of the young man who reported to us that he made a conscious decision to take heroin so that he would be considered unreliable and untrustworthy. In this way, he hoped to escape the pressure he was coming under to be involved in organised crime,” he commented.While the levels of violence reported to the Ana Liffey in Limerick are high compared to other parts of the country, the other issues people experience are similar to those in other areas.“Both men and women are often homeless as well as using drugs problematically. The lasting solutions to these problems are appropriate housing with support, provided on a ‘housing first’ basis, and timely access to suitable treatment and rehabilitation,” Mr Duffin stated.But there’s a distinct lack of options in these areas.“Ultimately, Ireland has limited resources to deal with problem drug use and associated issues. Both nationally and locally, we need to target the resources we have towards evidence informed interventions that reduces the harm drug use causes to individuals, families and communities in cost effective ways.”Most of Ana Liffey’s clients are between 20 and 30 years old and also tend to present as poly-drug users. Funded predominantly by the State, Ana Liffey does not charge for any of its addiction services and team members emphasise the importance of treating its clients with “respect and dignity”.“A lot of the time we are the first to engage and have a real conversation with people. Drugs are a big part of their identity and they tend to isolate themselves, as they have not had very many positive experiences. They are very vulnerable and live totally chaotic and traumatic lives,” said Ana Liffey’s Team Leader in Limerick, Rachel Conway.A direct link has emerged in the city in the last couple of years between young people abusing benzodiazepines, known as ‘benzos’ and ‘upjohns’, and the increase of heroin use. ‘Benzos’ includes drugs such as Xanax and Valium and their more dangerous street versions such as ‘stick’.Ana Liffey have also seen evidence of Limerick drug users taking Lyrica, a prescription drug for controlling seizures and treating nerve pain.“I was on Xanax, I was on more than I should have been. I was out of my head going out doing very stupid things and then I started dabbling with heroin. My mother died three years ago and I got on Xanax first and then I went completely off the rails and pushed everyone that was near to me away,” 22-year-old Ana Liffey service user Carol (not her real name) told the Limerick Post.“I just constantly wanted to be stoned and live in a different world. I’d take anything at all just to take away that reality. My mother and her partner were heroin addicts so I had seen it from a very young age. I knew all about it and I swore I’d never go down that path, but you don’t know what’s in front of you. I had witnessed my mother on heroin since I was around seven or eight up till 18 when she died,” the young woman admits.Research undertaken by homelessness agency Novas Initiatives, revealed that in an 18-month period between May 2012 and November 2013, they responded to 34 overdoses — an average of one incident every two weeks. The first study of its kind in Ireland, it confirmed that benzodiazepines and heroin were the drugs most frequently used by those interviewed in Limerick, with one-fifth injecting daily.This week the Limerick Post joined Ana Liffey Mid-West’s outreach team in the city centre as they set out to provide clean needles and syringes to drug users; a health promotion intervention grounded in the organisation’s harm reduction philosophy.Team Leader Rachel Conway and Project Worker Aoife Marshall both carried plastic bags filled with injecting equipment and other drug paraphernalia such as needles, syringes, water, pots, bins and Vitamin C, available at no cost to those who might need it. The Mid-West outreach team also offers a wide range of advice and support regarding safer drug use and safer injecting techniques, tailored to the drug users needs. The aim of this service is to reduce the damage associated with sharing used injecting equipment.“This all helps the wider community,” Rachel explains.“You can’t just tell them to give up drugs altogether because they are not ready for that. We engage with them and if we get them to trust us, that’s a big thing. We work with them to find a way to be able to look after themselves and keep them safe by not overdosing,” she said.Ana Liffey Drug Project Mid-West team leader Rachel ConwayOne drug user we met begging on Denmark Street is freezing cold so the outreach team buys him a warm coffee and engages him in even warmer conversation to gage his wellbeing. This human interaction manages to bring a smile to the young man’s face and the team moves on happy in the knowledge that he has no pressing health issues.“It’s quiet today. Sometimes they come into town early, get their money and disappear then to buy their drugs,” Rachel points out.Set up as an alternative to the ‘just say no’ abstinence-based approach of the eighties, Ana Liffey works on the frontline engaging and supporting those who’ve slipped off the radar. The organisation’s work brings about positive change in the lives of substance users in a non-judgmental environment.For 22-year-old drug user Carol, this model has made a positive difference.“I made lovely friends here and the support is brilliant. They go out of their way to get you here. They give you help and I want to thank them because they are a very good group of people. God only know where half of us would be without them,” she says.As I depart the Ana Liffey Mid-West team on the city’s streets, the words of Dr Seuss spring into mind: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”For more details on Ana Liffey Drug Project log on to www.aldp.ie or call their Freephone number 1800 78 68 28. Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Email WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads Facebooklast_img read more

Commentary: They Asked For Red For Ed

first_imgCommentary: They Asked For Red For EdNovember 11, 2019  Posted by jlkrull59By John KrullTheStatehouseFile.com INDIANAPOLIS – In a few days, thousands of educators, parents, and students will flock to the Statehouse.That has self-appointed education reform advocates all in a tizzy.The occasion is Red for Ed Day on Nov. 19. That’s when teachers, administrators, parents and students from all around the state plan to show up at the Statehouse to lobby for more money for the state’s schools. So many teachers and students are planning to attend that some schools plan to close on that day.Some members of the education reform crowd think this is just horrible.Even though they’ve applauded students and educators from charter schools or private schools accepting vouchers who went to the Statehouse to lobby, they say, somehow, that it’s wrong for public-school teachers, parents and students to do the same.This is an argument for more civics education in all schools – and maybe remedial training for adults, too.Last time I checked, the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances didn’t have an asterisk by it. It doesn’t say that self-proclaimed education reformer were the only ones who got to go to the Statehouse to ask for more money.But that smokescreen is not what has the education reformers so upset about Red for Ed Day.No, what has them worried is that people have begun to figure out that none of their so-called reforms have worked.Worse – from the point of view of the “reformers,” that is – people also have begun to realize who to hold accountable for these failures.Once upon a time, “accountability” was a word the education reform crowd loved. The reformers said they wanted to hold schools and educators accountable. It was the state’s responsibility to make sure that every child had a quality education and, thus, it was the state’s responsibility to hold every – every! – school accountable for delivering that education.Another word they used almost like punctuation was “empowerment.” They said they wanted to “empower” parents. “Empower” students. “Empower” citizens who cared about education.These days, they don’t use those words as often.That’s because it’s now clear that they didn’t mean what they said.If they had meant it, they wouldn’t have removed charter and voucher schools and students from the accountability measures imposed on traditional public schools. Any time anyone casts an inquiring eye on how charter schools are performing or whether the students receiving vouchers are doing better in private schools than public, the reformers pull another curtain closed or throw up another barricade.Accountability, it seems, is for other people.Not for them.Their definition of “empowerment” is similarly selective.They love it when parents take an active role in their children’s educations – unless, that is, that active role contradicts some of their cherished but largely ineffective notions of how schools should be run.A few years ago, for example, parents around the state were so upset about the state of Indiana schools that they elected a traditional public-school educator, Glenda Ritz, to be the state superintendent of public instruction.The reformers were so thrilled to hear the parents’ voices in that election that they stripped parents of the right to choose the state’s schools chief.Then, when the person they recruited to defeat Ritz, current Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, began to say that the reformers’ plans to improve Indiana schools belonged in the science fiction section of the bookstore and also said she wouldn’t run again, they accelerated the plan to make her job appointed rather than elected.That’s some parental empowerment, isn’t it?There’s a cliché that says that some people play checkers while others, those who think farther ahead, play chess. These education reformers seem to be confused by tic-tac-toe.The reason so many students, parents, and teachers are coming to the Statehouse on Nov. 19 is that the reformers gave them no place else to go.Every move the reformers have made has funneled all the anger and frustration surrounding the state’s schools right back at them.They might as well have sent an invitation.FOOTNOTE: John Krull is the director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Carter practices with Orange, speaks to media for 1st time since suspension

first_imgDelone Carter admitted it Tuesday night.Was there ever any doubt?Did Delone always know this day would come?AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘No.’At some point there was doubt for Carter. But following his first practice Tuesday as a reinstated member of the Syracuse football team, there wasn’t any for the senior running back when describing his initial reaction to his reinstatement to the university. He’s ready to move on. Again. ‘My time was served,’ Carter said. ‘And that’s it.’After a four-month long suspension, Carter was finally back with his teammates Tuesday in the Carrier Dome at 4:30 p.m. for the team’s second practice of the season. Carter shared reps with the first team during the afternoon practice and said he was an ‘eight out of 10’ on a physical level. But SU head coach Doug Marrone would not name him as the starter at running back for the Orange’s first game at Akron on Sept. 4, which also happens to be a return to Carter’s hometown.At least, not yet.‘I have not put a place on the depth chart yet,’ Marrone said. ‘… (Carter) was in there (with the first team) today. But obviously in a very limited role.’Marrone announced Carter’s reinstatement Monday at the team’s annual media day in the Carrier Dome after receiving a call from Carter’s father, Robert White.Even with the open competition at running back, Carter described his feelings about rejoining the team almost as succinctly as he summed up his reaction to his reinstatement.‘(It’s) like giving me candy,’ Carter said. ‘I’ve been away from it for so long.’The senior spoke to the media for the first time since his reinstatement — and since his suspension on April 14, Tuesday night. After he arrived outside of Manley Field House — stepping out of a black SUV, holding his helmet and wearing a pair of white tube socks — Carter read a folded-over prepared statement to the assembled media.Carter is accused of punching a fellow Syracuse student in a snowball-throwing incident on Feb. 27. His trial in Syracuse City Court is pending and was postponed Aug. 2. Carter would not comment on the trial, referring to it as a personal matter. Marrone announced Monday that Carter will not serve a suspension or be further disciplined.‘I regret what happened and I learned a lot from it,’ Carter said. ‘It matured me a lot.’Carter’s full statement read: ‘I’d just like to say I’m grateful and thankful for the opportunity to come back to Syracuse to get a degree, to rejoin my teammates, and as far as what happened, that is a personal matter, and I’d like to put it behind me. Any questions about playing time will be handled by Coach Marrone.’The senior arrived Tuesday afternoon after traveling from his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He arrived in time for the Orange’s practice and even caught some of his teammates off guard.Delone was back. But it took two looks to realize it.‘At first I walked in and saw a couple of players,’ Carter said. ‘They really didn’t know that it was me, and they took a double-take. Like, ‘Delone!’ It was a good welcome.’But it was hardly a welcome from long-forgotten teammates, and long-forgotten friends. Tuesday served as an in-person reunion for Carter – SU’s leading rusher last season with 1,048 yards and 11 touchdowns – after remaining in contact with teammates all summer.The contact was constant. And for Carter – who was home in Akron all summer ‘spending time with my son and working out’ – perhaps his most comprehensive contact came via a cell phone photo message.After a summer workout, Orange linebacker Derrell Smith sent Carter a photo of the SU offensive linemen and defensive linemen wearing Carter’s signature water weight-shedding ‘ab-trimmer’ waistband.For Carter, back in Akron, it brought a moment of amusement –– and visual connection.It was a connection that was explicitly communicated from Syracuse cornerback Da’Mon Merkerson during Carter’s first true play from scrimmage Tuesday.Carter split wide, and while running down the field opposite Merkerson, the cornerback said three words. It was trash talk from Merkerson, but trash talk that exemplifies where SU is as of Carter’s return Tuesday.‘I got you!’ Merkerson screamed.After four months, the Syracuse football team finally has Carter back.Even if it came after waiting for months while Carter spent that time yearning for that all-too-familiar candy.And even if the guys who now got him are just a bunch of Barneys wearing his ab gear. After a solemn summer, Carter can now dabble in humor.Said Carter: ‘It was funny watching Big Barneys walking around with (Carter’s ab-trimmer). It was funny for me.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Published on August 9, 2010 at 12:00 pmlast_img read more

After buying into Eaves’ message as rookies, special senior class can skate away knowing they turned

first_imgEvery senior class that comes through Wisconsin’s men’s hockey program wants to put its stamp on history. But while this year’s group could still leave its final mark with a national championship to end their careers, they have already etched their place in the history books — and they did it three years ago when they were just freshmen.Sure, every group of seniors has the moments they will remember. This one will remember three-straight trips to the NCAA tournament, and more specifically, Nick Licari might remember being tied up with a Minnesota State player in December 2003 when the Kohl Center lights went out during the third period.And every class has the games it will never forget — a thrilling overtime win against North Dakota their sophomore year, a game at Lambeau Field and sweeping Minnesota, North Dakota and Colorado College — all on the road — early in their senior year.And there are those they wish they could forget. For this crew, an embarrassing loss to Michigan in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament and being brutally outplayed last weekend at Minnesota State.But for defenseman Tom Gilbert and forwards Adam Burish, Ryan MacMurchy, A.J. Degenhardt and Licari, their four years have been about much more than specific games and moments.Most people know of the story of Bear Bryant’s “Junction Boys” from the book or movie. It’s the story that chronicles a Texas A&M football team enduring a hellish training camp only to become a championship team.Though they could put the icing on the cake with a championship at the end of this year, the Badgers’ senior class already all too closely resembles that plotline. And that’s why UW head coach Mike Eaves isn’t shy about calling them his “Junction Boys.””We felt that way,” Burish said. “There would be times when we’d come back to the dorms together, and somebody would turn the shower on and say ‘if I don’t come out just leave me drowned in there, just joking around because you’re so sore. It was wild.'””I remember Eaves came to the locker room and said ‘I’m going to demand perfection out here, and if you miss a pass or miss the net, you’re going to do it again,'” Burish said. “Whoever completes a pass perfectly every drill and especially that year when it was such a mess out there. Guys were just kind of losing it, but he demanded we do it the proper way.”This year’s seniors were mere freshmen when Eaves took the reins in 2002. It’s safe to say they had no idea what they were getting themselves into.”I could write a book about it,” Licari said.What they were getting themselves into was a firestorm of pain and trials and tribulations due to a rigorous training schedule and general rockiness that is characteristic of a team under a first-year head coach.”One thing that really sticks out was the five-mile run,” Licari said, trying to pinpoint one of the hardest times of his freshman year. “It was like 95 degrees on an August afternoon, and we just ran around the track, 20 laps. Hockey players aren’t supposed to run like that.”But the five roommates bought into the program. They went to work every day planning to work harder than the veterans.”We didn’t know anything else. When they said get up at 6 o’clock and wrestle on the astro-turf and try to pin a guy, sure, we’re going to do it,” Burish said. “When they said go run five miles, we’re freshmen, we’re going to do what we have to do to get in the lineup.”And it paid off in the form of playing time — MacMurchy, Licari, Gilbert and Degenhardt combined to miss just six games.They continued to work despite a season that saw tension in the locker room, a situation off the ice involving Eaves and former Badger Alex Leavitt, and a win-loss record that made fans cringe. They were just 13-23-4 in that first year.”You could say it was the season from hell,” Burish said. “Every weekend we lost it felt like — you’re hanging your head, you’re embarrassed. We’re up twice a week at 6 a.m. doing ridiculous workouts.”They even lost three of their fellow classmates as Joey McElroy, Brent Gibson and Tom Sawatske chose to go their separate ways over the coming years.But the five current seniors never threw in the towel.”They survived … they stayed with it. They bought in, and they carried the torch,” Eaves said. “Look at them now. They’re a big reason we are where we are. They are truly the Junction Boys of the University of Wisconsin.””It was tough, and there were days when you didn’t want to come to the rink,” Licari said. “You were sore, and you were like ‘Why am I doing this?'”But it was the dedication and open-mindedness of the five to stick with a schedule that beat them up physically, mentally and emotionally that paid off in the long run for the Wisconsin program.The Badgers are 66-36-15 in the three years since that dreadful first season, have made runs to the top ranking nationally in each of the past two seasons and set the record this year for most sellouts in a season at the Kohl Center.”[Freshman year] was a character building year,” MacMurchy said. “[Now] it’s very satisfying. Our class helped turn it around and get through that transition period. All we care about is the program at Wisconsin, so getting that in the right direction now is a big thing for us.”Though they are not Eaves’ recruits officially, they basically have become his over the last four years.They will be able to take a special meaning into this weekend’s senior festivities because they are the first class that has played for four years under Eaves.And like the team that they led this year, the five have become more than just best friends — they are like family.”Us five seniors have pretty much spent every day together for the last four years,” MacMurchy said. “We’re pretty much brothers now. It’s crazy to think it’s almost done. We’re going to be lifelong friends together, and that’s what it’s all about.”This weekend, the close-knit group of five will take to the Kohl Center ice against St. Cloud State for their last regular season series knowing they can say they were a big part of turning the program around.But they are still focused on a time, a little more than a month from now, when they are hoping to put their final major stamp on their class with a national championship in Milwaukee.last_img read more