‘These pushers are dealing death to our kids, they can dress it up any way they like but they are dealing death to our young people.’

Meath county councillor Alan Lawes

The words of Alan Lawes ring only too true for Sheila (Not her real name) a recovering addict from Navan.

She told Meath Live, ‘ I have lost both here in the town and elsewhere over the years, and there were times when I came close to the exit door myself.

‘I can tell you one thing, you asked about heroin and how available it is, well I’ll put it this way if I relapsed tomorrow, and please God I won’t, it wouldn’t be too hard to find, would I have to leave Navan to get it, not a chance.’

Sheila has been clean for a number of years now but making the initial breakthrough was, she says, the toughest part of all.

When you take away the drug, that’s when the real problem materialises.

“That’s why people tend to relapse.”

She added: ‘things that made you an addict come back to haunt you when you’re drug-free.

‘You become seriously depressed, suicidal.

‘All of these things you can’t cope with, normal daily tasks. And if you can’t find the right treatment, more often than not, people go back using.

‘Speaking as someone who got huge help from it the Aisling clinic closing down was a huge blow to those from the area trying to give up.

‘I started by using cannabis when I was a teenager, and within a couple of yars was injecting heroin into both arms.

‘I was a decent student and enjoyed school but once I started on the brown (Heroin), everything went downhill.

‘I left school early and got a job in a factory but I wasn’t able to hold it down, it was a decent gig as well and paid okay but I was spending the money as fast as it was coming in just to get the next high.’

Sheila then revealed the tricks dealers use to lure unsuspecting youngsters in.

‘There’s one dealer in this town who will give you the first hit of brown free as they know that you will be hooked almost straight away, and once you are in it is almost impossible to get out.

‘If you owe a few quid, and I mean a FEW quid, for gear you can expect a visit from someone working with dealers, and just because you are a woman doesn’t mean you won’t get a hiding.’

Asked whether dealers fear being caught by cops, Sheila laughed openly, ‘Ask yourself this when is the last time you saw a big drugs seizure in Navan, it must be years ago now.

‘Either the dealers are very good at operating below the radar, the cops don’t know who they are or there is some other reason, and you know what I’d rule the first two out, because I’d say everyone knows who the main players are.’

Similar stories have emerged in Ashbourne.

One source told Meath Live, ‘I was driving into an estate in the town only recently, to visit a friend, and there were six squad cars, a couple of Garda vans and nine, I counted them, cops both armed and unarmed raiding the house of a well known dealer.

‘I mentioned this when I arrived and was told that it was a regular event but nobody ever gets charged, ad as I was leaving there a deal openly being done at the front of the house that had just been raided.

‘You can take it as 100% that Ashbourne has a drugs problem, deals are being done openly and seemingly nothing is being done, or should I say nothing is being seen to be done.

‘If I wanted to access drugs here tomorrow it certainly wouldn’t be a problem.’

Perhaps the scariest stories are emerging from the small north Meath village of Drumconrath.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Michael Gallagher told us, ‘I am aware of five registered heroin addicts in the village.

‘On at least two separate occasions attempts have been made to burn a house down because of monies allegedly owed to one of the biggest drug dealing gangs in the country.

‘There’s also one local that I would know of has a serious bounty on his head because the same gang are looking for him.

‘This is only a small village but there is a drugs problem here, anybody who denies it is either poorly informed or burying their head in the sand.’