'Rampant' cocaine use fuelling domestic violence solicitor warns
"Rampant" cocaine use is fuelling domestic violence and dominating family court cases in the Republic of Ireland, it has been claimed.
Recreational use of cocaine has become so widespread it is impacting the lives of people from every economic background, and a rising number of addicts are choosing the drug over their children, according to a family law solicitor.
Sandra McAleer, based in Dublin, said it is involved in almost every other court case she deals with.
"Cocaine is rampant, it's either the cause or it's the financial burden because of people taking cocaine," she said.
"People taking cocaine get cocky, and when they get cocky they get paranoid and that's when the arguments start.
"People can't go out for a few drinks any more, they have to go to the toilet.
"Domestic violence is being fuelled by cocaine. Everybody is going at it.
"Normal working mums are losing their kids over cocaine."
She said that while cocaine was previously seen as a "rich man's drug", it is now being used by people on low incomes, parents with nine to five jobs and wealthy businessmen and women.
She added that cocaine is given out "on tap", leaving people facing mounting debts as they spend hundreds of euros each weekend on the drug.
Ms McAleer said it has become socially acceptable to openly do a line of cocaine during nights out.
"I can't comprehend how men and many women are choosing the white stuff over their children," the solicitor added.
"There's a lot of money in it and the only people that are fuelling it are the Joe Soaps.
"A dealer told me that he can get up to €1,000 for a good bag of cocaine."
One victim of domestic violence wants abusers to be made to sign a national register to help prevent other women from experiencing similar abuse.
Dublin mother Priscilla Grainger was emotionally and physically abused throughout her marriage and was afraid to seek help.
After she eventually ended the marriage she found little help for victims.
In 2014, she and her daughter set up the organisation Stop Domestic Violence in Ireland, which provides help for people trying to get out of violent and abusive relationships.
"Myself and my daughter were physically and emotionally abused and it became extremely dangerous," Ms Grainger said.
"I realised we need to help other people, and the only way to stop domestic violence is by helping other people and exposing it, as domestic violence is not a crime."
She said the organisation had a huge increase in calls for help over the Christmas period, with financial abuse and cocaine among the main factors.
"The financial abuse can be very daunting for the victims because they have nothing coming up to Christmas," Ms Grainger added.
"Bank accounts could be cleaned out if the victim has a joint account with their husband or partner or wife.
"It was non-stop until Christmas Eve, it was horrific.
"You could see the fear in people's faces because they've obviously had a horrendous Christmas and it's all down to these narcissistic men and women. Abusers are not just men, there are women too.
"Victims suffer so much, they have no confidence, they have no self-esteem. They're on the floor flattened and the next thing they might try and get back up and find they have nothing.
"There is no register for domestic violence as it is not a crime, so people can't check on new partners.
"If the relationship breaks up, he's gone and he moves on to the next person and he'll do the same thing.
"The next government needs to make domestic violence a crime and introduce a register which perpetrators have to sign.
"If they did that they might not be too quick to lift their hand or kick their feet."