Northern Ireland

Elderly people raise north Belfast drug concerns

Seamus McAloran resident at the Cliton House complex in north Belfast where drug users have being using the grounds to inject. PIcture by Mal McCann
Seamus McAloran resident at the Cliton House complex in north Belfast where drug users have being using the grounds to inject. PIcture by Mal McCann

Elderly people at a north Belfast residential home have spoken of feeling 'threatened' by drug users in the area.

Several residents at Clifton House have broken their silence after drug paraphernalia, including discarded needles, were found in the grounds of the historic property.

Located at North Queen Street, the landmark building dates to 1774 and is a well-known tourist attraction in the city.

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Part of the main building includes a residential home for elderly people and those with dementia, which is run by Radius Housing.

However, residents say that surrounding grounds have recently become a meeting place for people to take hard drugs.

Local resident Seamus McAloran said he has even encountered drug users at his back door in the past.

"It's dangerous for the kids," he said.

"I have had to go around the parents of local children.

"I played in here as a kid myself. The kids will come in, it's a big green space and I had to go around the parents two Sundays ago and get the Belfast City Council community safety team out to clean the whole place up.

"It was the worst I have ever seen it."

One 80-year-old woman told how she regularly encounters people taking drugs.

"That is a threat," she said.

She said she has been left feeling "terrified" by some of those she encounters in the area.

"I have applied to move, most of the decent people living here are looking to get out," he said.

Another resident, a 78-year-old man, told how he was recently confronted by a naked couple in the grounds of Clifton House.

"There was a man and woman lying in the bushes with no clothes on them and there was drug paraphernalia all over the place," he said.

"The next day there was four men there and they were all taking drugs."

"This (place) is for old people to spend the rest of their lives here and we are now confronted with drug addicts."

Another resident suggested that a fence be erected in a bid to deter drug users from entering the grounds.

Mr McAloran also added that those with addictions should receive the help they require.

"They need a centre like they have across the water where they can go and use their drugs safely," he said.

"They are sick people, they've got an addiction."

A spokesman for Radius Housing said: "The safety of our tenants is our top priority and following recent concerns expressed regarding anti-social behaviour we have increased our own security provision on site and, following liaison with the PSNI, they have agreed to increase patrols in the area.

"Radius Housing have strict procedures in place to deal with anti-social behaviour and where tenants are found to have engaged in such behaviour we will take action in terms with our policies and tenancy agreements."