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One of the needle bins installed in the Wellington Road area in an effort to get drugs users to safely dispose of syringes. Pic: Kelly O'Brien
One of the needle bins installed in the Wellington Road area in an effort to get drugs users to safely dispose of syringes. Pic: Kelly O'Brien
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Residents say heroin users cleaning equipment in Holy Water

INCENSED St Luke’s residents have hit out at a “distinct rise” in drug use in the area, claiming the problem is so bad that addicts have been using a local church’s Holy Water to clean their dirty needles.

Those living nearby have linked the recent escalation to the installation of a syringe bin on the steps between Wellington Road and Sydney Place almost a year ago. They say drugs users have been flocking to the steps to shoot up.

The idea behind the bin, according to the HSE Drugs Task Force, is that those using drugs will safely dispose of their needles there, making the area safer. Locals say the bin has not had the desired effect, and actually attracts drug users.

The issue was discussed this week at the St Luke’s Community Safety Forum. “The bin is there since December and the problem has definitely gotten worse since then,” said one concerned local.

“That area was being used by residents as a short-cut to get down to the town. It was very nice, picturesque, and now it’s a no go area with graffiti, drug taking, drug paraphernalia and beer cans.” Another resident called for the bin to be removed immediately. “It is effectively saying that this is a great place to shoot up, that illegal drug use is acceptable,” he said.

“You pass those steps [where the bin is] and you’ll see unsavoury types up to no good and, unless you were off your head yourself, you wouldn’t venture down the steps at all. It has effectively become a black-spot right in the middle of the district, and it feels like we’re just watching this happen and not doing anything about it… and that’s not good enough.” Locals say syringes are constantly being found in the area.

“In Sydney Park, when cleaning up the area last Saturday, we found needles stuck into the ground… it is shocking. The residents of Sydney Park certainly feel that the bin attracts users into the area,” said one man.

Meanwhile, a female resident said those running the local Holy Family Church were forced to remove the holy water from the porch outside and move it to the sacristy after they suspected it was being used by drug addicts to clean their needles.

The woman also said that at a recent clean-up of the nearby St Patrick’s Church, volunteers collected “a paint bucket full of needles”.

A Garda spokesperson confirmed the authorities are aware of the ongoing drugs issue in the area and will continue to police it.

“The situation is being monitored and we have had a number of successes in the area recently. Tackling drugs… there’s no easy solution. It’s a huge problem in the city,” he said.

“We would ask people to report everything. Don’t assume that somebody else will. It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil, so just keep reporting issues as they happen, as you see them, and they will be dealt with.”