Injecting centres could 'solve drugs problem' in Dublin
THE decriminalisation of drugs and the opening of injection centres could be the answer to Ireland's drugs problem, a Dublin conference has heard.
A delegation of politicians, drug users and service providers met in the Mansion House to discuss the country's drug problem and to talk about possible new strategies.
On the table at the meeting was the possibility of medically-supervised injecting centres for drug users.
The Ana Liffey Drugs Project has offered to provide the service if legislation is introduced.
Speaking after the conference, Tony Duffin, the head of Ana Liffey, said he felt that we were on the cusp of real change.
"The response to the idea of supervised injecting centres was very positive.
"We are increasingly moving towards a question of how we will do it rather than should it be done," he said.
"There was a lot of discussion around concerns people have about how things would work going forward but I think people realise what they really are and what they can do for everyone."
The think tank was spearheaded by the Minister for Drugs Aodhan O Riordan (inset), who has championed the supervised centres for the capital.
Sinn Fein health spokesperson Caoimhghin O Caolain also voiced his support.
A presentation was also given on where Ireland could adopt the Portuguese model of decriminalisation.
It would see people caught in possession of small amounts of drugs treated outside of the criminal justice system - instead they will be obliged to complete treatment programmes or attend counselling.
"It doesn't mean that you're soft on drugs or that you're facilitating drug use. It just means that you are dealing with it more effectively," Mr O Riordan told the Herald.
"To assume that people will be influenced by criminal sanctions is old-fashioned."
Decriminalisation did not mean legalisation, he pointed out.