herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Minister gets first look at bill to allow legal injecting centres

Drugs

Marcus Keane BL, Draft Legislation Committee, Tony Duffin, Director, Ana Liffey Drug Project, Diane Duggan BL, Co Ordinator Voluntary Assistance Scheme and Emily Egan SC, launching the draft legislation
Marcus Keane BL, Draft Legislation Committee, Tony Duffin, Director, Ana Liffey Drug Project, Diane Duggan BL, Co Ordinator Voluntary Assistance Scheme and Emily Egan SC, launching the draft legislation

DRUGS Minister Aodhain O'Riordain has received a first look at how a law allowing legal injecting centres for addicts might work.

A draft bill was presented to the minister by the Ana Liffey Drug Project.

Under the proposals, centres where drug users could legally shoot-up under medical supervision would be set up.

Tony Duffin, the director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, said that the introduction of safe places for injecting was a "race to save lives".

The centres would dramatically lower the risk of overdose and disease among users.

It would also tackle the problem of public drug use around the city centre.

The Herald previously highlighted the problem of prolific drug abuse in St Audoen's Park in the south inner city.

Every year, council workers collect thousands of used needles in the park, which is located near a primary school.

Introducing licensed injecting centres would go a long way to tackling the problem of public injecting, according to Mr Duffin.

"It's bad for everyone, including users, residents and businesses," he said.

It is not yet clear whether fixed centres or a mobile injecting unit would be most suitable for Dublin.

People often feared that centres would act as a "honey pot", attracting addicts and dealers into an area and leading to a spike in crime, but this had not been shown to be the case abroad.

vulnerable

Mr O'Riordain has previously said he wanted to see supervised injection centres by the next election, but admitted yesterday he did not know how a law allowing them would be received in the Oir- eachtas.

"We're talking about a very vulnerable population of our fellow citizens that I think a lot of us generally view as human litter that just need to be swept away or moved on," he said.

"We can view them like that or we can view them as common citizens who deserve dignity, respect and a way out."

Mr O'Riordain said people need to be open-minded about the best solution to helping people find a way out of drug abuse.

Under the proposed model, people would be permitted to bring their own illicit drugs to the centre and would only be allowed to inject themselves.

Staff would be on hand to intervene if someone overdoses.

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