Dublin GAA star calls for new look at drug decriminalisation

Philly McMahon lost his brother to drugs in 2012

Dublin GAA star calls for new look at drug decriminalisation

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

One of Dublin’s All-Ireland winning football stars has called on the government to consider decriminalising drugs to deal with addiction.

Ballymun Kickhams defender, Philly McMahon lost his brother John in 2012 after his heroin addiction caused a fatal heart condition.

McMahon has established a new charity, Half Time Talk which works with high risk youths and drug addicts to help them re-integrate into society.

Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, he said Ireland has the third highest rate of overdose in Europe, adding that we need to take a long hard look at how we've approached the problem:

"We need to look at different policies because what we are doing at the moment is not working. Portugal have decriminalised drugs and there has been a massive success rate with that," he said. "Switzerland has legalised drugs."

"I am not saying we should do one or the other - but we should definitely look at these areas.

“Why have we waited till we get to the stage where one person dies a day from drug overdose?” 

He said a serious heroin addiction can cost upwards of €20,000 - €30,000 a year.

“Where are they going to get the money? They are jobless, they are homeless and crime comes into it,” he said.

He said drug addicts have no clear route back into normal society and called for serious consideration to be given to decriminalisation.

McMahon also backed plans to introduce injection centres with medically trained personnel.

"The big thing with that is, we are taking drugs off the streets, we are monitoring the individual and we are putting drug addicts in an area where we can target them to hopefully get them into recovery programmes," he said.

"That is very important, because essentially what we are doing now is, we are just saying we will leave you to the streets until you die."

McMahon hopes to help save hundreds of users through the new charity in his brother's name.

"It is important that we show our kids that if you take drugs this is the route you will go down. It is a very bad route," he said.

"Essentially, if you do dabble with drugs and if you take drugs there is a way back in. It is not a lost cause."