Leading loyalist’s warning after ‘drug-link’ deaths

There have been a number of sudden and unexplained deaths in recent weeks
There have been a number of sudden and unexplained deaths in recent weeks

A leading PUP figure has called for anyone who came into the possession of drugs in the past few weeks to “dispose of them immediately” – after the sudden deaths of eight people throughout the Province.

Dr John Kyle – a GP – said: “If you are in possession of drugs first of all definitely do not take them.

“Secondly dispose of them safely, and thirdly, if any young person has a drug problem they need to talk to someone they trust about it so they can be passed on to their doctor, a drugs counsellor or a community worker for help.”

In recent days a police investigation into the sudden deaths of eight people prompted safety calls by drug addiction workers.

The individuals who died were all in their 20s and 30s, and police are investigating whether the deaths are linked to drugs.

A PSNI spokesman last night said they were still waiting on the results of forensic tests.

It is understood the individuals believed they had been taking ecstasy tablets.

Police have warned individuals not to take green-coloured tablets with a crown or castle logo on them.

Although the known deaths have all happened in loyalist areas, Dr Kyle cautions against assuming they were sold by loyalist paramilitaries.

He said: “We simply don’t know at the moment where the drugs have come from, but I do think it is a mistake to focus on loyalist paramilitaries.

“The drugs trade is a complicated, unscrupulous business and there is no place for it in our community.

“There have been three deaths in east Belfast that I know of. But drugs are widely available in all communities,” Dr Kyle added.

Dr Kyle said there was an urgent need for caution as “no one knows if there are more of these tablets in the community”.

The other drug-related deaths are reported to have happened in other areas of Belfast and north Antrim.

Police are appealing for anyone who is aware of any individual involved in the supply of controlled drugs to contact their local police on 0845 600 8000. Information can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.