‘Bind us together’: Hundreds join hands in show of solidarity at Coalisland vigil against town’s drugs problems7, April 2012 | By: brendan64 | 1 Comment »
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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