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I life less ordinary
In the final months of his battle with cancer, TONY GREGORY sat down with Hot Press to discuss his life and career. Knowing it would be his final interview he was in a reflective frame of mind.
Jason O'Toole, 23 Jan 2009
Do you really think Bertie’s camp gave Colley a going over?
I know Ahern’s crowd gave Colley’s crowd a rough time. Big time. What did happen was Ahern was put from Finglas into a new constituency – therefore he felt vulnerable at that time. He was tufted out of Finglas by Jim Tunney who didn’t want this little whippersnapper taking over his constituency. And he was dumped out on top of George Colley. And as we know, unfortunately, Colley died of a heart attack. I’m not suggesting that there was any connection between the two now or anything – but! At that time, the only rivalries that existed within politics were within political parties. There was no rivalry between Ahern and Michael O’Leary in Dublin Central. O’Leary was after the Labour vote and Ahern was after the Fianna Fail vote, so his only rival was Colley. And I presume Ahern did what he’s been doing ever since – he did local polls to tell him who was strong in different areas and who he would need to make inroads into.
You were seen as vehemently anti-drugs...
(Laughs) I’m portrayed as this anti-drugs person, but when we were involved in 1980s (in the campaign) there was the odd bit of hash going around in the inner city. It certainly wasn’t as widespread as it is now; people didn’t have the money in any case. And there would have been LSD. I was afraid of LSD because I heard this thing took over your mind completely. And I never liked things that took you over completely. I mean if you’re anti-drug, I wouldn’t be able to have my glass of wine or even drink coffee or whatever, because they’re all drugs. I think alcohol in the inner city, unfortunately, did far more damage than even heroin, never mind anything as almost irrelevant as hash. So, it was not an anti-drugs thing. It was an anti-heroin campaign.
Do you think marijuana should be legalised?
The latest research is saying that marijuana is very carcinogenic and that there is a big link with cancer. I have never heard a logical argument for legalising cannabis. I’ve heard logical arguments for giving pure heroin to extremely, acutely addicted people for whom no other treatment programme works, as well as giving them clean needles and even heroin. This would prevent them getting Aids. I’ve been at projects in Switzerland where they’ve done that. They have little clean offices that are medically supervised and so on. There is logic for all these sort of things. I can see the arguments from people who say, ‘You’ll never defeat it and crime will escalate and so on’. But, you know, legalising any drug I presume means you can walk in and buy it. I think that just compounds the problem. As far as I’m concerned, heroin is a very negative, damaging drug. The idea of making it legal is crazy. If you legalise it an awful lot more people will buy it – and it’s a highly addictive drug.