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Friday 23 June 2017

'Spread drug injection centres out across the city', minister urges

A heroin user shoots up (Stock picture)
A heroin user shoots up (Stock picture)

Junior Minister Finian McGrath has said injection centres for heroin addicts should not just be in Dublin's city centre.

A pilot injection centre overseen by nurses and doctors is expected to open in the centre of the capital by October.

The minister for disability issues said he welcomed plans for a drug injection clinic, but said there should also be other in several other areas.

His reservations about such centres were based on preventing large numbers of addicts being attracted into the city centre, he said.

Crime

"The drugs issue is an addiction issue and the spin-off in petty crime and violence. We need a medical model, rather than a criminal justice model," he said.

"I visited a lot of those injection centres in Lisbon and saw them first-hand.

"I do think that every single community - whether it's Kildare, Tipperary, or Swords, or Coolock - should have to deal with its own issues, instead of shoving the problem into the centre of Dublin.

"I'm totally supportive of minister Catherine Byrne and the injection centre model she is introducing.

"I will be making my strong views known at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. I'm not aware of any Cabinet members being against it."

The plan to be brought to Cabinet by Junior Minister Ms Byrne tomorrow proposes that addicts will be shielded from prosecution by gardai while they shoot up heroin and other banned drugs in the country's first medically supervised self-injecting room.

They will bring their own drugs and be provided with clean needles, where they can inject in a sterile booth.

If anyone overdoses, the doctors and nurses react straight away.

Ms Byrne said the target users were around 300 addicts who shoot up on the streets of the capital, leaving them prone to overdose and infection.

Health staff will look after their needs and treat infections or other medical conditions, and also refer them for treatment if they want it.

There will be consultation done in advance with local businesses and residents, said Ms Byrne. New legislation would allow for more centres to be opened later.

"What option have we got? Let them die on the streets?" said Ms Byrne.

Representatives of hundreds of city centre businesses hit out at the plans.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland claimed the injection centres would bring more addicts to central Dublin and scare off customers. Drugs should be administered in GP surgeries around the country instead of in public injecting centres, said a spokesman.

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