herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Reaction mixed to proposed new injection centres for drug users

Father Peter McVerry
Father Peter McVerry

Plans for new injecting centres for heroin users are drawing a mixed reaction.

The Ana Liffey Drug Project and the Voluntary Assistance Scheme of the Bar Council of Ireland have been working together since last summer on draft legislation which would allow for the operating of the centres.

It comes as the Herald revealed that 30 needles are found on the city streets every day.

Read More: Radical legislation to allow for supervised injecting centres for heroin users

Grainne Kenny, the Honorary President of Europe against Drugs (EURAD), said that the experience elsewhere is that there isn't a huge uptake of such injecting centre facilities.

"I would think it shows a real failure of successive governments, that they haven't been able in such a small country to tackle the drug problem. It is not doing anything with the actual problem," Ms Kenny said.

"All it's doing is moving it. It is not doing anything to make people better. It is nothing more than window dressing."

She believed that needles will still be on the streets. While some will use the injecting centres, other addicts who want a fix will inject where they get their drug, she pointed out.

treatment

However, homeless champion Fr Peter McVerry said that he is "absolutely" in favour of such centres.

"I think this makes sense. Where this has been done before, they have found that there is an increase in heroin users who have sought to go on to treatment, the reason being that they are in regular contact with professionals who are advising and supporting them. Where they are just injecting on the streets they are isolated from professional advice and support," he said.

"It is much safer because they are injecting in the presence of medical personnel. (In places) where it has been done, there has been a huge decline in the number of needles and other paraphernalia found on the streets, which are a danger to people passing by."

Dublin city councillor Daithi de Roiste said that such centres are necessary as there is a growing problem with drug use.

But he said he would like to see where the proposed locations are and it needs to be carefully managed.

"Obviously, I don't think it's right to have these in the middle of a housing estate," Mr de Roiste said.

Legislation is being prepared to allow for the medically supervised injecting centres that will allow drug users avail of clean needles.

fdillon@herald.ie

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