THE appointment of a second outreach worker for Cork’s heroin needle-exchange programme has been delayed by several months.
The Health Service Executive said that the position for a second outreach worker will be advertised before the end of this year, several months after the body told The Echo last July that the position was due to be filled shortly, with recruitment underway.
However, in response to a query from The Echo, a spokeswoman for the HSE said: “We can confirm that the position is likely to be advertised before the end of the year.”
The current needle- exchange outreach worker liaises with anyone who has concerns about drug litter and also works to direct heroin users into services including the needle exchange programme currently running in Cork City.
Former lord mayor, Independent councillor Mick Finn, is the representative of the Education and Training Board on the Cork Local Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce.
He said: “We were expecting the position to be filled early in the summer.
“Whatever the obstacles are, this is a position that is required to be filled.”
He said that the current outreach worker on the needle-exchange programme is doing great work, particularly in engaging with users of the drug.
And he said: “Doubling that capacity is very important.”
Earlier this month, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien raised concerns in the Dáil about the use of heroin in Cork City, saying that those suffering with addiction need better supports.
“The HSE has told me that they have the capacity and the finances to do more for those suffering with addiction.
“And I acknowledge funding has increased in recent years but the department won’t sign off on new posts,” he said.
“Addiction is a health issue and it deserves to be treated as such,” he said.
News of the delay also follows the arrest of a man in the city centre earlier this month after the seizure of a suspected haul of two-and-a-half kilos of the drug.
In September, just over €100,000 worth of heroin was seized in the city’s Kent Station.