Exclusive: Heroin addicts using drugs den in St Stephen's green to shoot up
Heroin addicts are using St Stephen's Green to shoot up within metres of tourists, children and other park users.
Last night, political leaders and campaigners for drugs supervision clinics expressed their shock and anger at the situation.
A popular park for tourists and Dubliners alike, St Stephen's Green is the jewel in the city centre.
However, an investigation by the Herald has found a significant level of drug use there.
Our exclusive photos show the extent of the drug problem engulfing the city centre.
These images were captured on Tuesday afternoon and show several items of drug paraphernalia used by addicts.
On one of the hottest days of the summer, dozens of used syringes and needles, gas canisters and pieces of tinfoil used for cooking and smoking heroin were discovered in the shrubbery.
Just beside the "shoot-up area", a stream of tourists and office workers flowed into the park, unaware of the illegal drug activity taking place.
Yesterday, the Herald alerted the Office of Public Works (OPW), which maintains the park, to the extreme level of drug use taking place there.
Although the area was cleaned up yesterday, tinfoil and several syringes could still be seen.
The Herald observed a man passed-out in the shrubs, just inches away from used syringes and foil. A can of alcohol was by his side.
Activists involved in helping drug users said these images paint a disturbing picture of Dublin's drug problem.
Tony Duffin, of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, said the amount of drug paraphernalia at the scene suggested a combination of drug use and the potential of overdosing.
"It's concerning that such a well-known tourist park has this level of drug-related litter," he said.
"The canisters of gas show that people are breathing it in to get a quick high.
"They're not a controlled substance and can be easily bought over the counter in any shop for a couple of euro.
"It's very dangerous and isn't something you can advise people on how to inhale. It can can kill you."
Activists said the syringes, foil and empty bottles of water found in the park suggest that heroin was being injected.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr called last night for the immediate opening of supervised injection centres.
"As long as people are injecting in bushes and laneways, we are going to have scenes like this," he said.
"If we establish supervised clinics, we will have a huge input into stopping this kind of behaviour. There will also be no transmission of diseases."
Mr Carr also warned that a young child could have stepped on needles if they had run into the bushes to get a ball.
Meanwhile, gardai said that Operation Pier was a targeted operation dedicated to tackling anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
A garda spokesman said: "This is an entirely uniformed operation and helps in assuring public confidence.
"In addition to this, the local drugs unit is regularly involved in covert operations to tackle the sale, supply and use of drugs within the Pearse Street District, which encompasses St Stephen's Green."
The spokesman also said that mountain bike patrols regularly visit the park.
The OPW said last night that staff inspect "all shrubberies" in the park on a daily basis and added that any sharp implements or objects found are immediately removed for safe disposal.
"Park constables actively patrol the park during opening hours," a spokesman said.
"The OPW staff engage with the gardai on an ongoing basis on policing issues for St Stephen's Green."
However, the OPW would not reveal the number of syringes found in the park, saying they were "not in a position to disclose this information".