Gardaí investigating source of drug after teenager's death at music festival

Garda investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of a 19-year-old at a music festival over the weekend are continuing.

Jack Downey died after taking a substance, believed to be ecstasy, at the Indiependence music festival. He was taken ill after ingesting the substance and transferred to CUH, where he remained on life support until Monday.

He died on Monday afternoon with his parents, John, a garda based in Clonmel, and Elaine, who works in a local jeweller’s shop, at this bedside.

Garda investigations are continuing but the results of a post mortem examination are expected to confirm the circumstances surrounding his death. A file will then be prepared ahead of an inquest later this year.

Gardaí are investigating the source of the drug and have conducted inquiries in Clonmel with the help of local gardaí.

The head of services at the Ana Liffey Drug Project has appealed to people attending festivals and concerts to avail of welfare services if they feel unwell after taking drugs.

Dawn Russell said that the welfare tents run by the charity are there to offer assistance, and not judge anyone’s actions. She told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that taking drugs at festivals is a reality and that it is important that it is managed properly behind the scenes.

Ms Russell said that many people simply don’t know what is in the substances they are taking. She said that the drugs being sold at festivals are not pharmaceutical quality with many containing ‘bulking’ agents and can be “highly potent.” The gardaí do what they can to control the supply of drugs at festivals, she said.

“They can’t keep all the drugs out, they can’t search everyone,” she said.

“There are no safe doses, this is even more the case at festivals where there is no family or support around. It’s important to have medics on site.”

Ms Russell said that the first priority of volunteers at medical support centres at festivals is the health and safety of young people: “They are there to protect your life, not get you arrested. Our job is to engage with people who have taken drugs or are considering taking drugs.”

Head of Student Affairs at Cork Institute of Technology, Dr Dan Collins, has said there is a “huge sense of loss and sadness” at the incident. Mr Downey was an accountancy student at the college.

Dr Collins told Cork’s 96FM that Jack was “vivacious and outgoing”.

“He was an enthusiastic young lad. He loved life. He loved living, very popular – not just among his peers in the classroom but he was involved in extracurricular activities here in the institute. Just a lovely young energetic talented lad.

“I spoke to his mum. Naturally enough they are devastated and we extend our sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers with his parents, family and friends. They are dealing with the loss of their son and it is a difficult time.

“They are aware of the great support that people are offering to them at this time.”

Counselling services are available to impacted students. They are asked to contact the Institute with any concerns.

The details of the funeral are due to be released later in the week.

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