There has been a dramatic use of hard drugs in the North of Ireland as a result of the peace process, according to a mamber of a government-mandated ceasefire watchdog body.
John Alderdice, a member of the International Monitoring Commission (IMC), said in New York that a decrease in IRA policing actions coupled with an increase in drug-pushing by unionist paramilitaries was causing what he said was a “negative peace dividend”.
He said that the Provisional IRA had always been very tough on drugs, partially because drug users were more susceptible to police pressure, but that “social control” was “breaking down”.
In recent weeks, the hardline Continuity IRA has begun issuing warnings to drug dealers and carrying out punishment shootings in republican areas
A spokesman for the group said last week that the group was acting in response to community appeals and “was not putting ourselves forward to police nationalist districts”.
Another IMC member, John Grieve, said that the stepping down of the Provisional IRA’s general headquarters staff, described in the latest IMC report, was making it more difficult for the organisation to “go away”, as demanded by unionists.
“There is a contradiction there. You need the structure to oversee the dismantling of the IRA, but if you keep the structure in place, people are going to say: ‘Oh look, they are still around,’ “ he said.