A surge in heroin use has led to shopkeepers in Cork city removing foil-wrapped products from their shelves.
As reported in the Irish Examiner, an owner of a Centra store has taken popular kids' chocolate bar off his shelves.
Denis Whelton, who has managed the busy store at Denroches Cross for two decades, said he also told his staff to stop wrapping deli products in tinfoil.
Mr Whelton said he made the decision after months of harassment from heroin users who have been using it to prepare the drug for consumption.
“I’ve been running this shop for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Mr Whelton said.
“And that’s despite huge efforts by the gardaí who are putting a lot of resources into the area.
“They are doing a lot of stopping and spot-checking, but they have to catch these people in possession, and that’s not easy to do. There are so many ways for them to escape.”
Removal of Animal Bars
Mr Whelton spoke to the Irish Examiner after he was the centre of a social media storm when a photograph was posted online suggesting that gardaí had requested the removal of the foil-wrapped Animal Bars from his shelves.
The sign read: ‘We no longer sell Animal Bars’, with the words ‘request from gardaí’ in smaller text.
Mr Whelton said he included the line about the gardai to strengthen his own decision to take the bars off the shelves. However, he accepted that the reference should not have been there.
need to know the story behind centra banning animal bars by order of the gardaí pic.twitter.com/qXE829Tt9q
— sophie 🥀 (@flyingsophus) May 19, 2022
On Thursday, gardaí released a statement on the matter.
“No such instruction or advice was issued by An Garda Síochána,” it said.
“Local gardaí have liaised with the business, and the sign has since been removed.
“Gardaí in Anglesea Street continue to support local businesses by issuing crime prevention advice and conducting regular, high-visibility patrols.”
Mr Whelton said it was his own decision to remove the foil products and foil from the deli.
“I would prefer not to sell these products than to have them on the shelves and have to deal with the issues we have had to deal it,” he said.
“This is a problem all over the city, and I am aware of at least four or five other shops in the city that have had to do the same — to take certain products off the shelves to reduce the availability of items that can be used as drug paraphernalia.”
Mr Whelton said business owners have been liaising with gardaí over the matter.