Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Monument unveiled to lost youth

A sculpted monument entitled `Home' was unveiled in Seán MacDermott Street in Dublin's North East Inner City last Friday as a memorial to the hundreds of young people who have died as a result of heroin addiction.

The memorial sculpture is the work of local artist Leo Higgins and hundreds gathered at the unveiling, which was addressed by 26 County President, Mary McAleese and local historian Terry Fagan.

Local Sinn Féin Councillors, Christy Burke and Nicky Kehoe, attended the unveiling and welcomed the memorial as a ``reminder of the loss that the North Inner City has suffered, and a symbol of hope for a better future''.

``134 heroin addicts died in this area alone in the past three-to-four years,'' Councillor Burke said. ``This community, along with many others, has seen the slaughter of hundreds of young people, yet we still have a massive heroin addiction problem on our hands. The reality is that, for a large part, this problem is still being ignored by the government, statutory bodies and sections of the media.''

One section of the media that chose to buy into the negative vibe that has branded the North Inner City in Dublin a `no-go' area, was the `Irish' Mirror the following day. Nicola Tallant, who attended the launch, chose to prioritise a more sensationalist article regarding a local criminal, `The Monk', over the monument unveiling. Christy Burke says that this ``negative'' media reporting of deprived areas has only contributed to the sense of alienation and powerlessness felt by many of the communities.

``We certainly need a more positive approach from those in Irish society who wield influence on this issue, whether they be in government or writing in a newspaper.

``This problem will only be solved when we have adequate treatment and rehabilitation for addicts and, ultimately, when poorer communities are empowered to tackle the problems that led to the deaths of these young people.''

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