Northern Ireland’s top coroner has delivered a warning of the availability of killer drug heroin.
Fears the scale of the drugs problem in the province is much greater than widely believed have been expressed by John Leckey.
Mr Leckey was speaking during an inquest into the death of 26-year-old David William Walker from Belfast who died last year after taking heroin.
The coroner said he is concerned hardcore drugs are now widely available throughout the province and described the task facing police in combating drug abuse here as “major”.
He said a number of recent deaths from drugs in Northern Ireland may just be “the tip of the iceberg”.
“I think I heard the first inquest into the death from heroin toxicity in Northern Ireland.
“That death caused widespread shock that heroin had appeared in Northern Ireland society,” he said.
Mr Leckey expressed concern the use of heroin in Northern Ireland could now be considered “commonplace” due to the ease at which it can be obtained and the relatively low cost of it.
“You don’t need to be a wealthy person to obtain it,” he said.
“If what I’m told is correct it is a major issue for the PSNI.
“I wonder how widespread the problem of drug misuse in Northern Ireland is?
“Am I, as a senior coroner, dealing with the tip of the iceberg and is there a much, much wider problem than most of us think?”
Source: Chris Kilpatrick, Belfast Telegraph, 03/08/2012