Ulster Unionist Justice spokesman Tom Elliott has welcomed the call by senior coroner John Leckey for manslaughter charges to be brought against drug dealers.
Speaking after the recent inquest of 18-year-old Alice Devlin from Dungannon, the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said: “It is unusual for a coroner of Mr Leckey’s standing to make so clear a ruling.
“He has left no doubt where blame lies for the tragic events surrounding these deaths, costing us far too many young lives.
“Those dealing in drugs are responsible for killing dozens of our young people and yet they are free to operate day and night across the country.
“It doesn’t matter if it is someone trying to make a quick buck, or the leader of one of the criminal or paramilitary gangs, the responsibility rest with them all and they should face justice. Sadly few will come forwards with the necessary information, whether through fear or a perverse sense of loyalty, they keep quiet while others suffer.”
An inquest last week into 18-year-old Alice Devlin from Dungannon heard that she was killed by a drug that may also have claimed the lives of 19. She died on August 10, 2013.
“I would once again express my sincere sympathy to Miss Devlin’s family and I hope that there is no further similar suffering,” added Mr Elliott,
“If anyone knows who supplied the deadly substances please tell the police and help save other lives.”