Addict shoots up in broad daylight as injection centres put on back burner
THIS is the sad reality of the growing heroin problem on the streets of Ireland, in a week where authorities warned of an “unprecedented rise” in heroin seizures across Europe.
A man in his 20s sits down on a busy street in Dublin city centre in broad daylight and brazenly injects heroin into his arm as people try and go about their business pretending not to notice him.
The incident happened at 10.30am on Friday on Balfe Street, just yards from the exclusive five-star Westbury Hotel a favourite haunt of international movie stars and well-known faces in the music business.
A witness said: “He was standing in the middle of the road, then he sat down outside the Dublin Business School. He tied the tourniquet around his arm and just shot up in front of everyone, brazen as you like. I found it shocking, but other people just walked past pretending not to see him. He got up and walked off down the road afterwards.”
As well as being a haunt of celebrities, the Westbury has previously been popular with members of the Kinahan Cartel, whose lifestyles are funded by the same addicts who shoot up just yards from the establishment.
Friday’s incident is no one-off. Addicts regularly shoot up on the streets of Dublin as well as on public transport all in the full glare of people going about their daily lives.
There are estimated to be over 21,000 heroin addicts in Ireland with 16,000 of these based in Dublin.
Former drugs minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, announced plans late last year to introduce medically supervised injection rooms where addicts could shoot up in a safer environment than on the streets.
However, the cash to run the injection rooms has not been sanctioned and with the next government still undecided, it is unclear when, or if, the plan will come into action.
Advocates of injection rooms say that as well as taking the problem off the streets, they provide a contact point between addicts and nursing, counselling and welfare staff.
They also reduce the risk of blood-borne viruses and save money by reducing the number of ambulance call-outs for overdoses.
In Dublin alone, ambulance services respond to around 500 overdoses every year.
The Merchants Quay drugs service has offered to run an injection room in Dublin. Merchants Quay help to provide easily accessible treatment for users who wish to become drug free.
They refer addicts seeking help on to programmes such as High Park Rehab and Detox, where they can avail of a 17-week fully residential programme.
The programmes available offer clients a period of residential treatment in a drug and alcohol-free environment.
Last month the Sunday World revealed how heartless dealers were targeting vulnerable users trying to get clean by offering drugs for sale outside the Merchants Quay centre on Dublin’s Quays.
Heartless drug dealers have sunk to a new low and are openly flogging their poison just yards from the entrance to one of Ireland’s biggest treatment service centres, read the full story here.
Frustrated staff tried to move them on, but the callous dealers paid little attention as they continued to push their poison to addicts in the area.
Last week Gardaí cracked down on the dealers and arrested a number of people outside the centre.
However, Gardaí and drug workers know the arrests will do little to stem the flow of drugs on the streets of Ireland.
This week, European police and drug agencies expressed concern at an “unprecedented increase” in the size of heroin seizures, with several countries reporting record hauls in the past year.
A report by Europol and the EU drugs agency the Emcdda said that the heroin trade was worth up to €7.8bn in Europe each year.
The report stated: “Exceptionally, large heroin seizures are now frequent in the EU and seizures in Turkey are increasing. There are also signs of an increase in the purity of heroin on the streets of Europe.”
It added there has been an “unprecedented rise” in the size of the individual heroin shipments that are coming in to Europe.
Police forces have seized consignments of 100kg or more and in some cases tonnes of heroin have been seized in individual shipments.
There were “record-breaking” seizures in many EU counties including Belgium (864kg) and the Netherlands (1.2 tonnes), where a lot of heroin coming into Ireland is routed through.