Supervised injection centres in city by next year
DRUGS Minister Aodhan O Riordain has pledged that supervised injection centres will be in place in Dublin city by next year.
The clinics will also be rolled out to Cork, Galway and Limerick, according to the Minister, who was speaking today at the London School of Economics.
Mr O Riordain said that he hopes the new bill would be enacted “early next year” followed by regulations, meaning the State’s first injection room will open in the capital.
He said he believes there needs to be a “cultural shift” in our dealings with drug abuse.
But the Minister said that he doesn’t imagine “free-for-all” facilities for drug addicts.
“I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol
addiction,” said Mr O Riordain.
“These are clinically controlled environments which aim to engage hard-to-reach populations of drug users, including homeless drug users who would otherwise take drugs in the open, creating risks to themselves and the public,” he added.
He has had approaches from drug treatment professionals in other towns and cities.
He also said drug addiction should be removed from the criminal justice system as part of a “radical cultural shift”.
The Minister told the Irish Times that it would remain a crime to sell, distribute or profit from illicit drugs. But it would not be a crime to be a drug user or addict.
The heads of a new Misuse of Drugs Bill are being drawn up which will “unblock” the legislative obstacles to opening injection rooms, he added.
The Minister told the conference, hosted by the school’s International Drug Policy Project, that research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centres “is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviours”.
Since 2012, the Ana Liffey Drug Project has been lobbying for the introduction of Medically Supervised Injecting Centres. It will be represented at the event in London.
“We very much look forward to the LSE’s policy workshop and to discussing these important issues with our international colleagues,” said Tony Duffin, Ana Liffey director.