SENATOR Colette Kelleher has called for progress to be made on a safe injection centre for Cork. The Macroom-born senator said that the centre is needed for harm reduction and to give dignity to those battling addiction.
“We have people using heroin on the streets of Cork,” she said. “They have to crawl behind bins, hide in alleyways and street corners. It is dehumanising and humiliating.
“These people are ill and have often experienced trauma. Many have been badly let down by the care system.”
Senator Kelleher said that as a society, we need to reach out to people addicted to drugs, and stop shaming them.
“Research shows safe injection centres can help people learn about harm reduction and safe injecting,” she said. “We are aiming eliminate Hepatitis C by 2030, and this can be achieved through education about injecting safely.We need to be practical about public health, it is not nice to see people injecting on the streets, or to come across used needles on the pavement.”
The Senator added that there is a overdose-reversing drug called Naloxone available in Ireland, but only on prescription.
“This makes no sense, you can hardly pop to the chemist when you are overdosing, and it may be closed,” she said. “The centre will be controversial. A safe injection centre has been met by resistance in Dublin, and the same might happen in Cork.
“It reminds me of years ago when Cork Simon wanted to open a recreation day centre for people who usually drank on the streets. You’d think at the time that the heavens were going to fall in. Now, it’s been open for years and has been a great success.
“There’s a lot of scaremongering, and we need to show courage and leadership to give people the help they need.
“I am willing to stick my neck out for a safe injection centre in Cork. We can’t bury our heads in the sand any longer.”