‘Bind us together’: Hundreds join hands in show of solidarity at Coalisland vigil against town’s drugs problems

Crowds of Coalisland residents joined hands in the centre of the town as part of a demonstration against the area’s growing issues with drug dealing and addiction.

>Live blog: Coalisland demonstration against drugs

Approximately 200 demonstrators formed a ring at the busy roundabout junction next to Frank McGirr’s clothing store and Landis chip shop, singing Bind Us Together Lord as a building number of motorists looked on.

(Scroll down for a video from the demonstration)

Demonstrators formed a ring in the centre of the town, blocking traffic for a short time

The symbolic act was part of a cross-community demonstration against the town’s growing drugs problem, which took place in the town today at 1pm in the Cornmill car park.

A “Coalisland Cares” banner was hung from the police barracks, next to a republican banner and tricolours.

Coalisland parish priest Fr Paul Byrne helped lead the crowd during the afternoon demonstration

About five police officers were present to oversee the demonstration. Politicians including Sinn Féin MLAs Francie Molloy and Michelle O’Neill were also in attendance, along with Malachy Quinn, chair of the SDLP in Coalisland.

Coalisland parish priest Fr Paul Byrne, Church of Ireland minister Rev Andrew Rawding, a concerned parent and a Brackaville GAA representative spoke to the crowd from the back of a lorry, outside O’Neill’s Bar.

Crowds gathered in the street as part of the vigil

They called on the community to “stand as one” in the fight against drugs and alcohol addiction in the town, prompting applause from the crowd.

Residents were urged to “work together” to beat drug dealing, but were told resorting to violence was not an option.

A “Coalisland Cares” banner was draped over the police barracks for the demonstration

And selling drink to children was damaging the community, the demonstrators were also told.

The mother of a child who became hooked on drugs encouraged residents to support the new Coalisland Cares group in fighting drug abuse.

Speakers called on the Coalisland community to work together to tackle the town’s drugs problems

A minute of silence was held for the victims of drug and alcohol addiction and the crowd were also jointly led in prayers by Fr Byrne and Rev Rawding.

The new Coalisland Cares community group will hold their first meeting on Monday, April 16, at 7pm at the Brackaville parish hall (corner of Mountcairn Drive) to discuss and plan a campaign strategy.

Church of Ireland minister Rev Andrew Rawding and Fr Paul Byrne and helped lead the vigil, held outside the Cornmill building

Concerns over the town’s problems with drugs have grown over recent weeks following reports of teenagers being caught up in the illegal activity.

On Friday 30 March, huge crowds gathered at a public meeting in the town in a bid to tackle the drugs issues among young people.

Ideas such as creating a drop-in centre manned by volunteers and using The Pub With No Beer were suggested to target vulnerable teenagers.

Join our Facebook page for more photos from the demonstration


Related stories:

>COMMENT: ‘Our drugs and alcohol problem in Coalisland is a parenting issue’

>‘Time to take back the town’: Crowds attend public meeting to tackle drug dealing in Coalisland

What do you think of Coalisland’s drug issues? Share your views by commenting below


Comments:

  • Raymond

    I too am very concerned about the effect of drugs and alcohol in Coalisland but only one thing
    will rescue sinful man and that is the proclamation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ! He
    is the one and only mediator and sinners must turn unto The Lord Jesus and repent of their sin
    God accepts no excuses for any sin because ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ Romans 3 v 23. How will each person in Coalisland answer for his/her sins on the day of judgement. 

    I wonder where the Church of Ireland and indeed the Roman church stand on this vital matter ?
    Are you reader depending on the righteousness of Christ or your own righteousness ?  Listen
    to God’s holy word ‘by Grace are ye saved through faith, not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast’ Ephesians 2 v 8&9.

 


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