The death of the popular Irish model Katy French has sparked off a debate about drug use in Ireland. The Irish celebrity died of brain damage last 6th December and the post mortem revealed that she had taken cocaine before her collapse.The death of the popular Irish model and socialite Katy French has sparked off a debate about drug use in Ireland. The Irish celebrity died of brain damage last 6th December and the post mortem revealed that she had taken cocaine before her collapse. The Irish police, An Garda Síochána, have launched an inquiry into her death.
Statistics show a dramatic rise in cocaine deaths in Ireland since 2004 and the death of the popular model has brought the issue into the media spotlight.
Irish television investigative journalism programme, Prime Time, claimed that 90 per cent of 300 venues which were forensically examined for cocaine nationwide tested positive for the drug. The documentary was broadcast on Radio Telefís Éireann a week after the death of Katy French and found traces of the drug in nine out of ten toilets in clubs, pubs and workplaces tested.
Drugs Minister Pat Carey said that people have to wake up to the extent of drug abuse in the country. He admitted that drugs that were in the past associated with working-class and disadvantaged areas are now as prevalent among the higher socio-economic groups.
The Dublin County Coroner, Dr Kieran Geraghty, announced that cocaine had claimed 26 lives in the city area alone last year.
Tony Geoghegan, CEO of the voluntary organisation for drug users Merchants Quay, believed that the real number of people dying of cocaine abuse in Ireland was probably higher than the statistics suggested. "It's obviously very rare that people die from just cocaine, it's often mixed with alcohol or something else. People may have died from heart failure so cocaine wouldn't be the primary cause of death", he said.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern called for a stronger enforcement of the law against the distribution of illegal drugs, but Justice Minister Brian Lenihan rejected claims that Ireland is losing the war on drugs and appealed for information from the public about drug dealers.
Statistics from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction show that cocaine is now the second most frequently used drug in Europe after cannabis.