Fewer than 100 people are injecting drugs in public, claims minister
DRUGS Minister Aodhan O Riordain has said that fewer than 100 addicts are publicly injecting drugs in Dublin.
Since taking up his new role, he has been investigating ways to end the practice. Possible solutions include supervised injecting centres and other medically focused interventions.
But despite widespread drug use in the capital, it is only a small cohort of people who inject regularly in alleyways and parks, according to the minister.
"They don't fit the criteria for your average rehabilitation programme," said the minister.
"We're talking, in Dublin city, about probably fewer than 100 people that we are effectively dealing with who need a medical intervention."
Mr O Riordain made his comments when discussing supervised injecting centres for drug addicts.
Through the Better City for All initiative earlier this year, gardai and other stakeholders identified a core group of between 80 and 100 people who are the most vulnerable drug users in the capital.
However, Tony Duffin, the director of the Ana Liffey drug project, said it was "very difficult" to quantify the number of people who engage in public injecting due to its illicit nature.
"We know it's out there and we know it's bad," he said, adding that the problem was manageable with the right supports.
"There are a lot of people who are homeless or living in precarious housing who are quite vulnerable and more likely to be publicly injecting.
Mr Duffin took the minister on a mid-morning walk around the city centre where they found drug paraphernalia in laneways and alleys north and south of the Liffey.
A couple of people were also seen smoking heroin on the steps of the Customs House at 10am.
The Herald has previously highlighted the problem of people injecting in public in the city centre.
In 2014, groups picked up 12,000 used needles - an average of 32 a day.
Our investigation showed that among the busiest spots for drug addicts was St Audoen's Park in the inner city.
Located in Cook Street, the park is only a few metres from a busy primary school.
Council workers picked up 5,986 used needles there last year.