Northern Ireland news

Dublin GAA star visits north to talk about brother's drug death

Dublin footballer Philly McMahon. Picture from RTE

A DUBLIN GAA star whose brother died from drug addiction has addressed a meeting in Co Tyrone over concerns about young people taking drugs.

Hundreds of people gathered in Carrickmore on Saturday where footballer Philly McMahon spoke about his own family's experience of the heartache caused by drugs.

The five-time All-Ireland winner's brother John died in 2012 after a long battle with heroin addiction.

During the public meeting in the Patrician Hall, he powerfully described the impact of his death aged 31 after falling into drug abuse in his mid-teens.

He has previously called for decriminalisation of drugs and works with young people to show them there are other options.

Derry and Slaughneil player Chrissie McKaigue also spoke at the event, which was organised by sports clubs in the area to address growing concerns about drug use in rural Co Tyrone.

Five sports clubs in the parish joined forces to create Carrickmore Sports Community Against Drugs and hold discussions with the community in a bid to send out a strong message about the dangers of illegal drugs.

The joint initiative by Carrickmore boxing club, St Colmcille's football club, Éire Óg hurling club, the local handball club and Carmen Runners has also seen the launch of a Facebook page to raise awareness.

"In light of recent concerns that there is a major drug use problem in the rural areas of Co Tyrone, the sporting community of Carrickmore have come together to tackle the issue," it said.

"Carrickmore Sporting Community Against Drugs proposes an educative and supportive initiative for our young people, which also sends out the message that drug use is not acceptable."

The organisers last night said Saturday's event had been "hugely successful" and also included talks by Michaela O’Kane and Eugene O’Goan of The Breakthru Project, a drug awareness charity.

The meeting came just weeks after a similar event in nearby Pomeroy, organised by Sinn Féin representatives and attended by Breakthru and the PSNI.

Organisers said the event aimed to look at how to prevent young people in the community from taking drugs and how to tackle drug dealers.

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