Drug ‘firms’ busted

Bernard O'Mahoney

THE PARENTS OF Essex eighteen year- old Leah Betts, who died after taking Ecstasy, have backed a book written by a nightclub bouncer involved in the ring which sold the drug to their daughter.

Press reports indicated that the Betts wished to block the book, published by Edinburgh-based Mainstream. However, Janet Betts, Leah's mother, admitted they had reacted before having read Bernard O'Mahoney's So This Is Ecstasy, and added that it was so gripping she would be reading it again. 'I found the book horrific,’ she said, ‘but I couldn't put it down.

’We didn't like the fact that he was admitting he had been in cahoots with the chain who supplied the drug to Leah,‘ she explained.

They have objected to the book’s cover photograph of Leah unconscious in hospital. 'We couldn’t stomach it appearing with, in effect, one of the dealer’s names underneath,’ said Mrs Betts.

O'Mahoney, who worked at Essex nightclub Raquels, claims the security company who employed him were hired to control the drugs trade there. His book tells of the thuggery and murder now rife on the scene, and of how he came to testify in the trials which followed Leah's death, in which two of her friends were eventually acquitted of dealing Ecstasy.

Publication will now go ahead later this month, with the offending photograph obscured by a sticker. (Stephen Naysmith)

Council bid to evict protesters

GLASGOW EAST END residents seem headed for confrontation with the City Council as protesters stage an occupation of premises earmarked for closure.

Three centres are currently hosting 24-hour sit-ins, with East End residents maintaining services previously provided by Council funds. In some cases, workers paid off by their Council employers last month are continuing to work unpaid.

However the Council has sought eviction orders and unless the protesters admit defeat, police assistance will be sought to carry them out.

Diane Duffy who worked for the Easterhouse Community Centre until receiving her notice as part of Council budget cuts, is now a volunteer member of the Easterhouse Occup- ation Committee (EOC).

’We are determined to keep the centre open,’ she said. 'This is an area of 45 per cent unemployment. People are struggling against enormous odds

if we shut, where would they go?’

Easterhouse is one of several Glasgow community, drugs and arts centres in whose funding has been axed because of the crisis in local government spending. Glasgow City Council leaders say their hands are tied and blame the Government.

Sit-ins are also in place in two other community centres, Ladymuir and Westwood, as well as the East End Drugs Initiative.

One young mother, recovering from heroin addiction, used the drugs project daily: 'It gave me somewhere to go during the day where me and my wean could have company and a hot meal,‘ she commented, adding that the project must be replaced. 'Coming off drugs can’t be done on your own at home,’ she said.

According to a Glasgow City Council spokesman, writs to remove protesters have already been served on the Westwood and Ladymuir centres.

’Legal action will be taken to remove protestors,’ he said. He added that

.r . /

Protesters are fighting to save community services in Glasgow's East End

negotiations with local organisations and funding bodies might yet save Easterhouse Community Centre. 'Progress towards a constructive solution is only being held up by the occupation,’ he claimed.

(Conchita Pinto)

Trainspotting drugs group pleads poverty

CASH-STRAPPED GLASGOW drug agency Calton Athletic has been accused of financial mismanagement by the City Council, after it announced the closure of several services.

However, the self-help organisation for recovering addicts, which appeared to have hit the jackpot WlIh its advisory role to the makers of Trainspotting, have already closed its Women's Group, one Day Group and after-care support for recovered addicts, paying off workers.

In return for help with Trainspotting, the group was paid five per cent of net profits from the film. It became a huge hit, and Calton Athletic received £100,000. An additional £150,000 coming from assorted trusts made 1996 a hugely successful year for the group.

Nevertheless, it is asking for an increase in the support offered by Glasgow City Council and the Greater Glasgow Health Board, to reflect an expansion in the numbers seeking help from them.

There was little sympathy from the council for their plight. ’Both the City Council and the Health Board have repeatedly emphasised the importance of budgetary discipline,’ a Council spokeswoman said.

'If they now have a deficit, it can only be because they have chosen not to take our adVIce.’

She pornted out that the Council and Health Board were Willing to maintain funding at the level agreed last year, when Calton Athletic's grant was raised to £244,000.

Calton Athletic’s deputy project leader David Main said Calton Athletic was a victim of its own succes.‘ Expansion in services meant it had three times as many clients now as when funding was agreed. 'The money on offer is based on a programme for fifteen people. We now have 45 on our day programme alone.’

He denied the group had been profligate. 'The money was managed well. We showed what we could do with the money from Trainspotting.’

Calton Athletic feels too much money is spent on methadone treatment in Glasgow, he explained. 'The Health Board has a £9 million drugs budget, and we are the only ones getting people off drugs.’ (Stephen Naysmith)

Actors rebel over cash

ACTOR'S UNION EQUITY is organising a boycott of Scottish theatre over a wage dispute with their employers, With the result that new productions cannot enter rehearsal.

The UK's 35,000 Equity members have been instructed not to sign contracts wrth members of the Theatrical Management Assooation (TMA), which represents all Scotland's major theatres.

Actors currently expect a weekly Equny minimum of £190, but the union IS demanding £250. In a compromise move, the TMA offered £200 this year followed by £225 in 1998 but this has been rejected.

Scottish Equrty spokesperson Lorne Boswell said: ’Theatre is essentially an actor meeting an audience, but now we're tied up in administration,

4 TIIEUST l8Apr—I May 1997

marketing plans and strategies. Actors are the last thing on the budget and that's Alice In Wonderland economics.’

’We have always been very Sympathetic to Equity,’ says TMA spokesperson Cameron Duncan, ’but we would urge them to be realistic. With arts c0uncil and local authority funding on standstill or in some cases withdrawn altogether, people have to ask where the money is gomg to come from?’ He claims 30 theatres would be placed in financral jeopardy if forced to pay the rate proposed by EQUIIY.

'This has been a pressure cooker waiting to blow,’ says Neil Murray, manager of Glasgow's Tron Theatre, 'and unfortunately EqUity has chosen the worst year ever to battle.’ (Paul Welsh)

Pubs call time on Old Firm

THE ASSOCIATION REPRESENTING Scotland's pub landlords could demand an end to Old Firm football matches on Sundays, following scenes of disorder when Rangers and Celtic met at Parkhead last month.

Some activists within The Scottish Licensed Trade Association believe the Scottish Football League should put an end to the flashpoint encounters.

Only matches on Sundays are a problem, according to Ian McMahon, campaign leader and manager of Buddies Bar, Paisley.

‘[Buddies Bar] had no trouble at all, but other pubs had a lot of bother,’ he said. ’When the matches are held on Sundays, fans have an

extraordinary length of time to drink

. . There is a 68-hour drinking period. Midweek matches carry much less risk of civil disorder.’

However the Scottish Football League was unsympathetic to the proposal. League Secretary Peter Donald said: 'A huge amount has been done within football stadiums and on the approach to grounds. Surely the licensees are in charge of what goes on in their own premises.’

He added that the recent match, which Rangers won 1-0 to all but clinch the league title, had been exceptional. ’That game had such significance that I don’t think playing it on another day would have made a difference,’ he said. (Stephen Naysmith)