Gardaí at Tramore continue to question a 25-year-old man in connection with the events of Saturday night in Ballybeg Square, which have left two young men on life support machines.
As we went to press, Kevin Doyle (21) with an address at Viewmount and John Grey (23) of Ballybeg Square remained in a critical condition at Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH).
They were two of 15 people who became violently ill after consuming what is believed to have been damp cocaine at a house party in the city housing estate.
The damp cocaine theory appears to have formed part of the preliminary Garda investigation, leading to suspicions that the group may have eaten, rather than inhaled the substance.
Both Doyle and Grey, along with another individual were described as being critically ill during their immediate hours of treatment at WRH on Sunday morning.
The third person in question was taken off the critical list on Sunday evening before being discharged on Tuesday afternoon.
The remaining persons who took ill at the house party were assessed at WRH and subsequently discharged.
It is understood that the families of both Kevin Doyle and John Grey are currently considering the most appropriate medical measures available to them regarding their sons’ continued treatment.
It emerged yesterday that it is only a matter of weeks since Kevin had been given the all-clear from cancer. Meanwhile, the Doyle family is awaiting the return of Kevin’s father from Australia.
On Saturday evening, family and friends of the Greys initially celebrated the 21st birthday of John’s brother Mark in a city centre pub.
A group of approximately 30 people, including Kevin Doyle, who hadn’t met any of the Grey family prior to Saturday, returned to the Grey’s home, where the party continued.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Betty Grey, mother of John, said her son had collapsed in the hall and that shortly afterwards, “another chap was in trouble upstairs”.
While describing her children as “no angels,” Mrs Grey said that John didn’t deserve to be lying critically ill in a hospital bed.
“Drugs run this town,” she said. “I don’t condone drugs. John took them – that’s it. But he didn’t deserve to be in a coma.”
At 5:20am on Sunday morning, the Gardaí, along with five ambulances, arrived at Ballybeg Square in response to requests for assistance.
A total of five ambulances and a single response unit attended the scene, along with the Chief Ambulance Officer, a HSE spokesman confirmed on Monday.
Those who took ill were believed to be “convulsing” during their initial treatment at the scene by paramedics before being transferred to WRH.
All 15 people were described as being in either their late teens or early to mid 20s.
Local politicians have described the events of the weekend as “a major wake-up call” for both the city and the State.
“We need to accept that we have a problem,” said Councillor David Cullinane (Sinn Féin). “And I would appeal to all parents to sit down with their children and talk to them about the consequences of what has happened over the weekend.”
His City Council colleague John Halligan (Workers Party) sounded a similar note.
“Waterford has a drugs problem and it is a substantial problem,” said Cllr Halligan on Monday.
“The greatest threat to society today is the misuse of drugs and drug-related crime. The problem with taking drugs is that it is completely addictive. I’ve met heroin addicts in the city who are taking heroin four or five times a day just to get a kick…
“If people are having a party, alcohol is not enough. Drugs have to be a part of that and there are consequences to that.”