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Drug testing service to be trialled at Electric Picnic festival

Professor Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Lead in addiction services believes the measure “will save lives”

Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The HSE will operate a pilot anonymous drug testing service at Electric Picnic next month.

The limited trial is part of the Health Service Executive’s drug harm reduction campaign and will mark the first time illegal drugs are tested outside of authorised State facilities.

The ‘Safer Nightlife’ programme has already seen HSE-trained volunteers at Irish festivals this summer assisting in emergencies and giving advice on how to reduce the risks associated with drug use.

Professor Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Lead in addiction services, said this pilot project is being trialed for research and monitoring purposes over the weekend of September 2 to 4 in Stradbally, Co Laois for the annual Electric Picnic festival.

He said it will allow HSE testers to identify and monitor anonymous substances which are surrendered either in a designated “amnesty bin” or brought in by gardaí.

The amnesty bins will be positioned inside the welfare and medical tent, where complete anonymity will be granted and no gardaí will be present.

Substances can be analysed in “real time” to determine if a substance is particularly harmful, along with the strength of the drugs.

“We can then get that message out via social media, via festival promoters to everyone at the event and warn them of the harm of these substances,” Mr Keenan said.

He added he believes the measure “will save lives”.

It is understood that the HSE testers have been given a licence from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to test illegal substances.

Gardai continue to remind festival goers that possession of drugs for personal use is illegal and subject to prosecution.

The HSE has also stressed that it is safer not to use drugs but is a person chooses to use illegal substances, they should have the option to receive information and help in order to minimise harm.


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