December 3, 2023

Kilkenny festival-goers warned about ‘high-strength ecstasy’ as four young men rushed to hospital


KILKENNY festival-goers attending this weekend’s Electric Picnic festival are being warned about potentially lethal high-strength ecstasy tablets that are circulating.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) issued the warning following an incident where four men in their 20’s were rushed to hospital in Kerry last weekend, for what is suspected to be ecstasy related illnesses.

The four men, all in their late 20s, fell ill after attending the Charlie Chaplin festival in Waterville, Co Kerry. All four men were rushed to University Hospital Kerry in the past number of days displaying side effects associated with taking ecstasy.

Earlier this week the gardai made festival-goers aware that they will be attending the Electric Picnic in large numbers in both a uniformed and undercover capacity. Anyone found with drugs at the festival could face prosecution.

Detective Superintendent Brian Woods, attached to the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, told the Irish Examiner: “In light of the tragic deaths we’ve had recently, people should be very mindful that taking these drugs are bad for you, from a health perspective. You don’t know what you are taking.”

Earlier this summer, 19-year-old Jack Downey, whose mother Elaine is from Callan, died after falling ill at a festival in Cork. It is believed Jack had taken ecstasy or MDMA.

Gardai are investigating the death of another teenager earlier this summer, which they believe is drug-related. In another incident, a teen from Galway remains on life-support in a Dublin hospital after falling ill after taking drugs.

Just last weekend, three teenagers in the UK died after taking either ecstasy or MDMA. Two girls, aged 17 and 19, and a 19-year-old man died after taking the drug at separate events.

Eamon Keenan, the HSE’s National Clinical Lead of Addiction Services, said extra-strong ecstasy has become a health issue right across Europe.

In a statement issued last night, Mr Keenan said: “The HSE is aware that across Europe in the last couple of years there has been a significant increase in the strength of MDMA/ ecstasy, which means increased risks for users. This is likely to be reflected in Ireland also.”

The website, an independent organisation which measures the strength of the different ecstasy tablets, is recording exceedingly high levels of chemicals in the majority of the tablets recorded. In most cases, the strength has doubled or tripled in the past five years.

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