Drug injection centre plan draws criticism

by Ian Begley
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INJECTION centres, where drug users inject themselves in a supervised environment, are a stepping stone to drug decriminalisation, according to leading anti-drug organisation EURAD.
This follows Junior Minister Aodhan O’Riordain’s recent announcement favouring the introduction of such centres in Ireland.
The Minister of State with responsibility for the State’s drugs strategy, has said he is in favour of introducing injection centres in Ireland and expressed his desire to bring forward relevant legislation later this year.
Supervised injection centres are legally sanctioned and medically supervised facilities designed to reduce nuisance from public drug use and provide a hygienic environment for illicit drug users when consuming drugs, mostly injecting drug use.
Widespread debate has emerged from politicians and leading drug treatment and counselling services over whether or not their introduction would have a positive impact.
Minister O’Riordain has stated that he has a short time to deliver their introduction before the next General Election and he says he still has some convincing to do to push forward legislation.
Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project Tony Duffin told The Gazette that it was recognised that supervised injection centres had beneficial impacts in the countries where they operate.
He said: “It’s well established that we have a very significant public injecting problem in Dublin particularly.
“I would say that all of the alley ways in Dublin city are used for public injecting at some point during the week.
“I visited the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre recently in Kings Cross [Australia] and I could see the absolute benefits of having medical supervised injection centres.
“With a mixture of injection centres, policing, housing for homeless people and treatment and rehabilitation they were able to have a very positive impact so much so that the area has come up in terms of business, footfall and property prices.
“That is the situation in Sydney and it is doable, it is manageable and it does work,” he said.
Grainne Kenny, honorary president of EURAD, a European anti-drugs organisation, believes that injection centres are only a stepping stone towards the decrimalisation of drugs.
Speaking to The Gazette she said: “Injection rooms or shooting galleries are banned by the UN Conventions on Narcotic Drugs as they are considered to be a step in the direction of legalisation and/or decriminalisation of illicit drugs.
“The acceptance of injection rooms by a State, according to UN experts, promotes tolerance towards illegal drug use and trafficking running counter to the provisions of the UN Conventions on Narcotics signed into law by the Irish Government.
“Any state that permits the establishing and operation of injection rooms also facilitates drug trafficking they warn. Ireland has an obligation along with fellow signatories to combat trafficking in all its forms.
“To breach such laws at the behest of a political whim by any minister would be a serious matter for the Government.”

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