NAMA owned hotel has become a dangerous heroin squat

Woman who lost two family members to drug use says addiction is "destroying towns and villages" and "tearing people apart”

The sister of a man who died of drug overdose in an abandoned hotel is demanding action be taken to prevent the same thing happening again. 

In May this year, Christopher Channon was found dead inside the derelict Clonmel Arms Hotel in Tipperary. 

The NAMA owned property has been falling into disrepair for nearly a decade - and Christopher's sister, Annemarie Channon said he had been squatting there - on and off - for a year. 

Newstalk reporter, Kieran Cuddihy visited the building this week and discovered an interior strewn with needles, burnt spoons, broken bottles and “all the signs of significant heroin use everywhere.”

Ms Channon said Christopher’s story is an illustration of a wider drugs issue that is wrecking Irish communities. 

“It is devastating,” she said. “It is destroying towns and villages, it is ruining families and it is tearing people apart.” 

Christopher had been released from prison just two weeks before he died and Ms Channon said a lack of proper support is leaving addicts with little hope for recovery. 

The 43-year-old had been serving a sentence for theft related to his drug habit. He had requested a prison sentence - as opposed to probation - so that he could access rehabilitation services. 

“He had been detoxing and he was trying to get help. I suppose the lure of the drugs got to him in the finish and the drink and the whole lot,” she said. 

“He had nothing to come out to. He tried his hardest but within days he was back on the heroin. It was his demise and it was a very sad lonely death for anybody to have.”

Ms Channon recently took Newstalk’s Kieran Cuddihy with her to see the room where Christopher spent his final days. 

Describing it as a “tragic scene,” Mr Cuddihy said that amongst his clothes, toothbrush and prescription medications there was a book on addiction recovery he been given at his most recent treatment.

Before her brother’s death, Ms Channon also lost her only daughter Amy, a mother of three young children. 

Amy was addicted to prescription medication at the time of her death and was suffering from mental health issues. 

Last June, Ms Channon held a March for Change in Clonmel Town Centre - aimed at highlighting the issues that contributed to the deaths of her daughter and brother. 

“It is so hard but the drugs are destroying everybody,” she said. “It is everywhere.” 

“It is every town and village in this country. It is not just Clonmel or Dublin or Cork. It is everywhere. 

“Unless people stand up and do something and speak out, it is not going to get any better.”

Local Councillor, Richie Molloy told Newstalk he had contacted the gardaí “on several occasions when he saw people breaking into the hotel. 

He said Christopher’s death had caused “huge disquiet in the town” and said - as of today - the building still hasn’t been secured with the gate “wide open.” 

“At the end of the day unless it is secured, and secured immediately, this is going to happen again and that is certainly a big fear of local residents living in the area,” he said.

Ms Channon is hoping Christopher's story will force the authorities into action and a senior official told Mr Cuddihy that NAMA representatives have prepared a report on the safety measures that need to be carried out on the property.

He said the local authority hopes to make a decision within the coming days before beginning work on making the site safe.