Book tackles Derry drugs problem

Author John Lindsay with a copy of his new book 'No Dope Here?' during the official launch on Thursday afternoon. 0412JM12
Author John Lindsay with a copy of his new book 'No Dope Here?' during the official launch on Thursday afternoon. 0412JM12

Relatives affected by the violent actions of Derry vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (R.A.A.D.) make straight for John Lindsay after the official launch of his book.

A relative of Andrew Allen, who was murdered by R.A.A.D. in Buncrana in February asks John to sign the book. They thank John and say that his book is both “courageous” and “important”.

Michael Doherty asks a question during Thursday's book launch. 0412JM09

Michael Doherty asks a question during Thursday's book launch. 0412JM09

John’s book, titled ‘No Dope Here? (Anti-Drugs Vigilantism in Northern Ireland), is published and funded by YES! Publications and the Junction.

The back cover of the book states that it looks at drug use in Northern Ireland and examines how different paramilitary groups have attempted to profit from it and to ‘police’ it through violence.

John was born in Belfast, raised in North Wales and has lived in Derry since 1986. He’s a yoga teacher and a father of four.

“I hope people read my book and I hope they buy it. The reason I wrote this book was to hopefully encourage people to have a debate about the issue of drug use, justice and about violence in our communities.

A section of the attendance at Thursday's book launch. 0412JM11

A section of the attendance at Thursday's book launch. 0412JM11

“I also wanted to stress how parents affected by the drug problem worry that their children will be murdered, mutilated or beaten up by paramilitaries.

“The media have an important part to play too because I want the book to help the media think about how they report how these groups defame the law of due process.”

John added: “I hope that my book can go some way to reducing or indeed stop the vigilante attacks in our communities. People have been using drugs for hundreds of years and a threat of violence is not the way forward. Everyone in society has to take part in the discussion if we are to stand any chance of improving how we deal with the issue.”

Maureen Hetherington from the Junction said that the organisation were proud to be associated with the book and praised John for tackling, what she described as a “very difficult issue”.

“The Junction is a peace building centre and we are all about addressing the legacy of the conflict therefore we are delighted to have part funded John’s book.

“We want Derry to be seen as a city of sanctuary. We want it to be a welcoming place to visitors when they come here but how can we welcome and look after visitors when we can’t even look after our own people.

“Young people have been and still are being exiled from our city because of the drugs issue. John’s book is excellent and I have to commend him for taking on what is a very difficult issue.

“It’s certainly not a popular subject and it’s very brave of John to write such a hard hitting book. John’s very passionate about the issue and I hope it goes towards raising awareness and debate.”

Eamonn Deane from YES! Publications applauded John for taking on, what he described as a “risky business” and said the book addressed the “dark side” of Derry.

“It was risky business for John when both researching and writing this book. All sorts of people will not like what is written in the book and they are going to come at us but I think they are signs of just how brave John is in tackling the drugs problem in his book.

“YES! Publications are also delighted to be associated with John and his book because we think he is showing great leadership in promoting a debate on the issues of drugs, justice and vigilantism.

“I think the book also encourages people to think about how they can influence policy regarding drugs legislation. It offers insight into what happens in communities when the people living there come up with their own policies - lives are destroyed when this happens.

“It certainly wasn’t an easy book to write for John because it shows the dark side of what’s happening here. It might be easy to ignore the problem but it will never go away. It’s only through such approaches as John’s that we can start to move towards having an important debate and discussion about how we can tackle the drug issue and the problems that come with it.”

A question and answer session proceeded the official launch of the book. Many of those at the event congratulated John on his book and several said that they hoped it would force people to consider their actions before using violence as a way to tackle or police the issue of drugs in Derry.

‘No Dope Here? (Anti-Drugs Vigilantism in Northern Ireland)’ is available to buy at Eason, Shipquay Books and Foyle Books.