600 heroin addicts in Cork as the debate over needle bins continues

600 heroin addicts in Cork as the debate over needle bins continues
One of the first two needle boxes to be installed in Cork in an effort to get drugs users to safely dispose of syringes. Pic: Kelly O'Brien

THERE are now more than 600 heroin addicts in Cork city, a senior garda has confirmed.

The extent of the heroin problem was revealed amid opposition to the introduction of needle bins in some parts of the city.

Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said the syringe bins were needed as part of an overall strategy to deal with heroin usage in Cork. He confirmed the number of heroin addicts has risen to 600 in the city. Defending the use of the bins along Wellington Road, Chief Supt McPolin said several agencies were working on a strategy to reduce risks to the public from exposed needles by offering heroin addicts a safe way to dispose of syringes.

He said that they were using a multi-agency response to the issue with Gardaí and the HSE working together on the problem. “There are a lot of wise heads working on the issue,” he said.

City councillor Joe Kavanagh said he had spoken to a lot of residents in the Wellington Road area and many were opposed to the bins.

“At the request of residents, I am asking the council to move the bins. I think they would be better suited close to chemists or hospitals and out in the open where there is visibility.”

Mr Kavanagh said there was concern that the area was being isolated and residents were afraid to walk near the area where the bin was located.

Sinn Féin Councillor Chris O’Leary, who chaired yesterday’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting, said that Cork’s local drugs task force is very proactive and it was good practice to use syringe bins. “It can help us to trace users,” Mr O’Leary said.

Local Workers Party Councillor Ted Tynan said the needle bins had helped to quieten the area.

“Like it or not drug addicts are living in the area, but since the needle bins went in, you don’t find needles behind garden walls. It appears to be doing the job.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Stephen Cunningham said to move the bins would simply be to move the problem.

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