More must be done to protect young people from the dangers of drugs, a Banbridge councillor has said after a possible substance abuse death in the town.
Council chairman Marie Hamilton was commenting after a man in his 20s was found dead in the Kenlis Street area on Thursday.
Three men, one in his 40s and two in their 20s, have been arrested in connection with the incident. Two of the men arrested were taken to hospital for treatment and one was still being treated yesterday.
The deceased was in his 20s and from a large family, well-known in both the Banbridge and Dromore areas.
Councillor Hamilton said the death, if confirmed as drug-related, will be the sixth such tragedy in just over 12 months.
At an inquest into the death of Banbridge man Connor Cochrane last week, the coroner heard how the 21-year-old died after taking a cocktail of substances in November.
Councillor Hamilton said there was “cause for concern” over drugs in the district.
“I believe there needs to be something more done in terms of trying to educate young ones, and maybe direct them to somewhere they can get help, because there are too many dying long before their time. Connor [Cochrane] would have been well-known as well and I just think everybody is finding it really sad that these young people’s lives have led them to this.”
The SDLP councillor added: “I’m sure the local PSNI are trying to get to grips with it. It might be hard to pin down who is actually pushing these drugs but, for me personally, I see this as a mother as it being tragic. I think we are becoming more and more aware that there is a major issue here as time goes on. Something has to be done.”
Upper Bann DUP MLA Stephen Moutray described the death as “a very worrying turn of events”.
“The death of a young person rocks any community to the core, and this is no exception. It is no secret that Banbridge has a drugs problem with five recent deaths in the community caused by drugs misuse. The PSNI and other relevant authorities must tackle this epidemic.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson MLA said the town was “reeling” from the latest tragic loss of a young life.
“I have been working with the local police in Banbridge, along with Councillor Glenn Barr, and I am meeting with C/Inspector Ian Campbell on Monday. We must work together to tackle this scourge on our community,” she said.
Detectives in Banbridge are appealing for anyone with information to ring the non-emergency 101 number.