Thursday 25 May 2017

Move junkies out to the suburbs -- mayor

HSE urged to relocate its treatment centres and hostels

Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

DUBLIN'S Lord Mayor Gerry Breen is to hold talks this week with the Health Service Executive about its policy of locating drug-maintenance clinics in the city centre, thereby attracting thousands of addicts in from the suburbs every day.

He has directed staff to 'map' the locations of maintenance and treatment centres, as well as homeless hostels, most of which are located in Dublin 1, north of the Liffey.

Mr Breen was speaking after the first meeting of the Dublin City Local Business Policing Forum, which he convened last Tuesday in response to the concerns of city-centre traders.

It was attended by the garda officer with overall responsibility for policing in Dublin, Assistant Commissioner Michael Feehan, who told the meeting that crime was down 16 per cent on the same period for last year.

Mr Breen said the HSE needed to examine models used in other European cities, where mobile dispensaries are used to provide addicts with the maintenance drugs, such as methadone or physeptone, in the areas where they live.

The HSE, he said, should also examine using pharmacies in suburban areas.

The lord mayor also accused the Government of taking an "interminable" time over the introduction of new laws after the old Vagrancy Act, which allowed gardai to move on beggars and loiterers, was struck down as unconstitutional in 2007.

Mr Breen, who represents Clontarf for Fine Gael, said: "We need to make the city centre a place where 13-year-olds feel safe coming to shop, where families and older citizens feel safe. If people have the perception that it isn't safe on the street, then I am going to address that."

He said he also wanted to see the issue of providing accommodation for homeless people in B&Bs and hostels in the city centre addressed.

"They house them in hostels and B&Bs and then they are dumped out on the street in the mornings and have nowhere to go. The homeless are doing most of the begging.

"It should be quite simple to address this. They don't have a problem with the homeless in Dun Laoghaire."

Mr Breen said moving drug maintenance into suburbs was politically sensitive as residents respond with protests to their local councillors.

However, he added: "Thirty to 40 per cent of our (the council's) income comes from commercial rates." Since the old Vagrancy Act was struck down, gardai have had no proper legal powers to move on beggars or the heroin addicts who have been congregating in the city centre in large numbers -- in some place openly dealing drugs within yards of the busiest shopping and tourist areas.

The two main city-centre stations, Pearse Street and Store Street, are under severe pressure dealing with the amount of day-time larceny and night-time disorder.

Store Street in Dublin 1, where most of the drug-maintenance centres and hostels are located, saw a 300 per cent rise in muggings in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2009.

Sunday Independent

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