‘People have died from dirty needles’: Lord Mayor calls for Cork city injection centre

He predicted that there would be objections to an injection centre “no matter where in the city it goes”
‘People have died from dirty needles’: Lord Mayor calls for Cork city injection centre

Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher told The Echo he has contacted Health Minister Stephen Donnelly seeking funding to begin the process of establishing a supervised injection centre in Cork, something he believed would help save lives.

CORK CITY’s Lord Mayor has written to the Health Minister to request funding for a supervised injection centre in the city.

Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher told The Echo he has contacted Health Minister Stephen Donnelly seeking funding to begin the process of establishing a supervised injection centre in Cork, something he believed would help save lives.

Mr Kelleher had previously stated that it was his intention to push for such a centre in the city as part of an effort to address the heroin problem.

“It’s something I would be 100% behind,” he said. “I know the chief executive of Cork City Council is on the same page, and I know a number of members of council are as well.”

Mr Kelleher said he had raised the issue at a previous Joint Policing Committee meeting and had received cross-party support from “a number of TDs” who had agreed to lobby the Health Minister for funding.

He predicted that there would be objections to an injection centre “no matter where in the city it goes”, but he said Cork needs to have an adult conversation around the issue of addiction.

'OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND APPROACH DOESN'T WORK'

“I know of people who have died down the back of alleys from dirty needles, or got severe infections from dirty needles, and this whole mantra of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ hasn’t worked and nor, in my mind, will it work; we need a different approach to addiction completely,” he said.

Mr Kelleher said he was speaking from personal experience, and had spoken several times in the past regarding his own brother’s experiences as a recovering heroin addict.

“I’ve seen it first-hand, and I’ve seen what addiction can do to a family, and not only that, but to a society,” he stated, adding that his brother is “very, very good, thank God”.

Lord Mayor Colm Kelleher
Lord Mayor Colm Kelleher

He said a supervised injection centre would require a staff of between 20 and 25 people, something he said would present significant funding challenges, but he believed it was something Cork needed, and something that would help save lives.

Independent councillor Kenneth O’Flynn said he supports the opening of an injection centre “somewhere in the city”, saying it was a conversation the city needed to have, and he felt such a centre was a necessity.

“It’s something that has to happen,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody approves of it, or wants it, but it’s one of those necessary evils of modern society.

“The problem with injection centres is that nobody wants them, nobody wants the potential of anti-social behaviour.”

Mr O’Flynn said open and transparent communication would have to occur with communities, and any potential injection centre would have to be properly policed to ensure anti-social behaviour did not occur in the vicinity.

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