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VIDEO: Public meeting ‘first step’ in new campaign

Dublin GAA star Philly McMahon has urged rural communities in Co Tyrone to come together to support young people caught up in taking drugs.

The five time All-Ireland winner spoke candidly to a large crowd in Carrickmore on Saturday night of how his own family and community has been ravaged by drug addiction.

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The Ballymun clubman, who lost his older brother John to drug addiction in 2012, was one of a number of keynote speakers at a special public meeting organised by five sports clubs in the town at the weekend.

It follows growing concern in rural areas over the recent proliferation of drugs such as cocaine. A public meeting in Pomeroy in January heard of “a crisis” in their village.

On Saturday night, it was heard that Carrickmore does not yet have a major drug problem, but could face one on its current trajectory.

A large crowd attended Saturday night’s meeting in Carrickmore. (Photo: Jay McGaghern)

The meeting was organised by Carrickmore Sporting Community Against Drugs, a new umbrella group comprised of the St Colmcille’s football club, Éire Óg hurling and camogie club, Carrickmore Handball Club, Carrickmore Boxing Club and Carmen Runners AC.

Around 300 people attended the meeting in The Patrician, which heard from Michaela O’Kane and Eugene O’Goan of drug and alcohol support organisation Breakthru.

However it was the interviews with Derry and Slaughtneil GAA star Chrissy McKaigue and Philly McMahon, conducted by former school teacher Cormac McAleer, that perhaps captivated the youthful sporting audience the most in Carrickmore.

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