Plan B Must be Prepared to Protect Injection Centre Policy
In advance of a decision on planning permission for a pilot safe injection centre in Dublin, Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said Government must be prepared for all outcomes and have a robust Plan B in place. Deputy Ó Ríordáin said we must have a serious national conversation about our approach to drug use.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“Lives are being lost while we await a decision on planning permission for safe injection centres. The Government must be ready with a Plan B option to protect the many lives that could be saved by such a centre. Injecting centres save lives. They prevent fatal overdoses. They prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. They are a fundamental tool in our armoury to protect vulnerable drug users.
“Any Department serious about taking a harm reduction approach would have a comprehensive alternative pilot in place if permission is not granted. For example, Dublin Town has proposed the option of a mobile injecting centre as a temporary solution. While not perfect, such a temporary measure would be worthwhile to protect drug users who, at present, are dying on the streets. Ultimately, drug centres need to be at a fixed address so users can access the service easily.
“The Programme for Government has a commitment to providing drug centres which are desperately awaited throughout the country. Harmful drug use is not a problem limited to Dublin – we need to see drug centres in Cork, Limerick, and areas with high drug use.
“We are still awaiting a Citizens’ Assembly on drugs which should be convened as soon as possible. As a nation, we must have a broader conversation about our approach to drug policy, one which engages people from every section of society. Having a comprehensive drug policy is not just good for users, but for society at large.
“We need to take a pragmatic approach to tackling drug addiction. The lack of a robust injection centre programme is dangerous for the user and for the everyday citizen. The people who are dying as a result of these delays aren’t powerful and therefore don’t hit the headlines. The Department must be prepared to provide a comprehensive response to protect the lives safe injection centres seek to save.”