A Cork shopkeeper has moved to clarify why he has ceased stocking a popular brand of children’s chocolate bar, saying it was not on foot of advice from gardaí but rather an attempt to save his staff from being hassled by heroin users.
Centra shop owner Denis Whelton confirmed to The Irish Times that he had not consulted with the Garda when he put up the sign “We no longer sell Animal Bars – Request from the Gardai” at his shop at Denroches Cross at the top of the Bandon Road on Cork’s southside.
“That sign was done at our own discretion so addicts would not give staff grief. I made the decision myself, as the owner,” said Mr Whelton, who has since taken down the sign about the small Nestlé bars after it went viral on social media when a customer photographed the sign and posted it online.
Mr Whelton was reluctant to discuss the matter in detail when approached by The Irish Times but it is understood that the shop has also stopped using tin foil at its deli counter in a bid to dissuade heroin users from coming into the shop to get foil to use when smoking the drug.
Garda sources explained that heroin addicts use tin foil to contain the powdered heroin when they heat it to give off fumes which they can then inhale using a straw, and it is understood that small amounts of foil from something like a chocolate bar wrapper is ideal to use in the process.
Mr Welton, who has run the busy convenience store close at the junction of Magazine Road and Glasheen Road for 20 years, said he had seen an increase in drug dealing in the general area in the past few months, despite the best efforts of gardaí to try and catch those responsible.
“The gardaí are investing a lot of resources in the area,” he said.”They stop and check a lot, but they have to catch these people dealing and it’s not always easy to do, particularly as they position themselves where they can see anyone approaching and where they have plenty of escape routes.”
According to garda sources, a gang of Eastern European heroin dealers have begun dealing in the Bandon Road area, meeting with users under a nearby archway in the area as well as in a number of carparks in the general Greenmount and Lough areas of the city.
“You could have up to 40 or 50 users a day going there,” said a Garda source. “We’ve carried out a few operations there and caught people but the next day they’re back there again. They’ve identified spots in the area where they can see anyone coming and where they have several escape routes.”
Contacted by The Irish Times, the Garda Press office issued a statement in which it confirmed that it was aware of “an image circulating on social media which refers to a sign displayed on a business premises in Cork.
“No such instruction or advice was issued by An Garda Síochána. Local gardaí have liaised with the business and the sign has since been removed. Gardai in Anglesea Street continue to support local businesses by issuing crime prevention advice and conducting regular high visibility patrols.”