Sunday 22 September 2019

'I know people will be fearful, but there's a crisis', says Byrne

Minister Catherine Byrne
Minister Catherine Byrne

New Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne is expecting some people to react negatively to supervised injection clinics for drug users, but insisted the drugs crisis must be addressed.

Legislation allowing the centres is due to be published soon, and Ms Byrne said that despite the challenges in the current Dail make-up she is confident it will pass.

A pilot project will be set up in the inner city, but a location will not be finalised until the new law has been approved.

"I know people in communities are fearful about things like this, but we have a crisis and we have to accept that we have a crisis with chronic drug users and this works in other cities," said Ms Byrne.

The Fine Gael TD said that the centres, champ-ioned by her predecessor, will be an "opportunity to get a handle on the scale of drug use" in the country.

"There is evidence that they work across Europe and other places, so I think we should give it a try and see," she said.


"It's an opportunity also to try and nail down how many people are chronic users and how they can be helped and taken into the system.

"It's a new thing for us, and we have to be very careful about how we are going to approach it. Some people are for it and some people are against it, but the process is well under way."

When asked if she was expecting a backlash from the community where the centre will be established, Ms Byrne said people will be given plenty of information about it well in advance.

"I suppose anything that's new is always met with some kind of discontent, but if people are made well aware of what's going to happen and how it's going to be run, that the structures are monitored, I think there is a chance that people won't be too scared.

"The location is going to be a vital factor. It has to be in the middle of the city because that's where the chronic users are congregating, so we have to start there."

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