Mum of girl (4) pricked by syringe says it's 'like the living dead' on street
The mother of a four-year-old girl who was pricked by a dirty syringe she found outside her Dublin home has said she would welcome medically supervised injecting centres.
Catherine Leonard believes this would lessen the risk of discarded needles to the public.
However, she also expressed her concern that this won't work for all addicts.
She and her husband, Derek Curley, were horrified when their little girl Mia and her pals found a plastic shopping bag containing ten dirty syringes on the path near their Ballymun home. Mia was pricked by one of the needles and as a result had to be tested in hospital for blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis C.
She was later given the all-clear. "She is still having nightmares," Catherine told the Herald. "Mia was always a good sleeper but I went into her room after hearing her crying the other night and she was hiding in the corner of the room. She tells me she is having bad dreams."
Catherine said the walkway that passes her house is used by local drug addicts to access a nearby treatment centre, and she and her neighbours often find needles, empty tablet blister packs, methadone bottles, tinfoil and other drug paraphernalia littering their road.
"I would welcome some medically supervised injecting centres because I do think it would lessen the number of needles on the street and it would lead to a safer situation for addicts and the public," said Catherine.
"But I wonder if the addicts would be prepared to use such facilities. If they have to take a bus into town [to visit an injection centre] I think they would just as easily carry on doing what they are doing.
"I think those that want help will travel to such centres, but there are others that just don't care. The bag that Mia found wasn't even tied at the top. It had ten needles as well as dirty tissues, tin foil and the other things addicts use, and it was just left on the street by someone who couldn't give a damn.
"You should see it here on a Saturday morning just after 8am. It's like the living dead going past the house and the kids can see them, out of their minds on drugs.
"Now when we are letting the kids out the door we have to give them the usual warnings that every parent gives their child about staying where we can see them and not to talk to strangers ... but now we have to add about not picking anything up off the street.
"Even though we do regular clean-ups we just don't know what is out there."
Health Minister Simon Harris has confirmed the government intends to proceed with plans to open a medically supervised injection centre in Dublin this year.
But it could be next year before it is open, despite repeated calls for the matter to be fast-tracked by groups such as the Ana Liffey Drug Project.
Tony Duffin of Ana Liffey agreed that addicts won't make long journeys to supervised injecting centres, but said communities outside of the city centre need to have local discussions to see if such a centre in their locality would be worthwhile.
"They could be implemented on a needs basis and we would hope to see more centres down the line after the one in the city opens," he told the Herald.