Supervised drug injecting centre is ‘years away’

Supervised drug injecting centre is ‘years away’
Drug paraphernalia in the public toilets on Grand Parade.

A MEDICALLY supervised injecting centre for heroin users in Cork may not be developed for a number of years despite the ongoing problem of drug addicts using public toilets to shoot up.

The HSE Co-Ordinator of Drug and Alcohol Services in Cork, David Lane, revealed that official injection centres were unlikely to be established in the city in the near future. He was speaking after drug-related paraphernalia was found on the baby-changing table in the toilet on Grand Parade.

Mr Lane said the development of a supervised injection centre for Dublin is the government's first priority. The project is now in the planning process and Mr Lane said proposals to have similar centres in Cork and other areas will be developed after the Dublin centre’s success is evaluated.

He stressed that a needle exchange worker patrols the Grand Parade area regularly and checks on the toilet facility to ensure no drugs paraphernalia are left there.

However, it’s understood the toilets are still used by addicts regularly.

A spokeswoman for Cork City Council said that while it is unfortunate that a member of the public encountered the litter in recent days, there is an emergency number inside and outside of the toilet if drug-related paraphernalia is lying around.

She added: “Once the call has been logged, the maintenance contractor can then deploy a cleaner to the toilet to clean up the paraphernalia.

“We would encourage any member of the public who observes drug paraphernalia, or any other issue in the toilets, to ring the number and make a report.”

Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Ken O’Flynn, who received an image from a constituent which showed the discarded items on the metal table in the toilet, has called for the installation of special lights to discourage drug use.

The UV black/blue lights would discourage drug use, he claimed, because they would make it more difficult for drug users to find veins for “shooting up”.

However, the city council spokeswoman said that there is no “clear evidence” that such lights are useful in discouraging drug use.

She added: “Indeed, a 2005 UK publication by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recommended that ‘...due to the increased risks to users and lack of evidence as to its efficiency, blue lighting should not be used in public toilets to deter drug use’.”

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