MP Sammy Wilson says the latest attack on a “legal high” shop is due to frustration at the law’s perceived inability to deal with the substances.
Speaking after the arson attack on Dunluce Street hydroponics shop Northern Lights on May 25, the East Antrim MP told the Times that while he discourages “vigilantism”, he understands the strength of public feeling on the issue.
He stated: “I understand public frustration as these substances are purveyors of misery, young people are getting into crime and families are being destroyed because of them.
“I have spoken to distraught parents who don’t know what to do as their youngsters are affected and some are trying to get money to buy these things by stealing.”
Mr Wilson said that he believed that current laws need to be strengthened to deal with legal highs.
He continued: “When the law is seen to be weak people take it into their own hands.
“But one anti-social activity isn’t any better than another and won’t improve the other.
“The law that there is needs to be used to the fullest extend and as quickly as possible, and the gaps in the law need to be addressed.
“They can’t be ignored and people are clearly angry.”
The elected representative said that politicians now need to take the initiative to address the public’s concerns through legal means.
“Last week, we urged the Justice Minister to bring Northern Ireland legislation into line with the Irish Republic, where it seems to have worked,” he said.
Earlier this month, Mr Wilson pledged to lobby the UK Government to bring forward legislation.
Speaking on May 25, he commented: “We need to move quickly and we hope the issue will be addressed in the Queen’s Speech, so that there will be more UK legislation as the Government has promised.”
“Other councils in Northern Ireland, such as Strabane, have taken legal action and were successful in getting injuctions against legal highs in their areas, and I am pleased that the chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is preparing a legal case.”