Saturday 10 December 2016

'I was attacked by a drug addict' - U2 hotel manager opposes injection centres

Published 24/11/2016 | 21:06

Principal of St. Audoen's National School Eilish Meagher and Michael O'Connor General Manager of the Clarence Hotel who spoke at a seminar at the Clarence Hotel discussing the implications of a Supervised Injection Centre/Drug Comsumption Facility scheduled to open in Dublin City Centre in 2017.
Pic Steve Humphreys
Principal of St. Audoen's National School Eilish Meagher and Michael O'Connor General Manager of the Clarence Hotel who spoke at a seminar at the Clarence Hotel discussing the implications of a Supervised Injection Centre/Drug Comsumption Facility scheduled to open in Dublin City Centre in 2017. Pic Steve Humphreys

THE general manager of the Clarence Hotel has revealed how he was attacked on the street by a drug addict.

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Michael O'Connor, who was a friend of late RTE broadcaster Gerry Ryan, was speaking at a meeting debating the introduction of medically supervised injection centres for drug addicts.

The first such centre in Ireland will be opened in Dublin next year, but there was concern about the initiative this week.

"I was the victim of an assault by a j****e," Mr O'Connor told the meeting, which was held in the Clarence Hotel, bought by U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge in 1992.

Mannix Flynn
Mannix Flynn

"I'm concerned about people, I'm concerned about my patrons," he said. "None of them are welcoming this proposal for supervised injection centres."

CHRONIC

Mr O'Connor warned of the consequences for politicians who act without the support of the public.

Some strong objections were voiced at the meeting, which was organised by the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Temple Bar Company and addiction service Aisling Group International.

The Clarence Hotel in Dublin. Picture: Google Maps
The Clarence Hotel in Dublin. Picture: Google Maps

Councillor Mannix Flynn spoke out against injection centres, saying it was the wrong road to take and that they would encourage drug addicts to harm themselves.

"We're dealing with chronic addicts. We're saying, 'Here's the rope, why don't you go hang yourself'," he said.

However, Neil Forsyth, of homeless support group Focus Ireland, said the issue was not clear-cut, and it seemed that people had already "nailed their colours to the mast" while calling for a debate.

He described how drug add-icts were being found dead on the streets on an almost daily basis.

Kris Karlsson, a reformed criminal and former drug addict, said it was the 12-step programme that saved him from his life of drugs and that he became clean very late in life before going on to found KRIS, a charity for reforming criminal addicts.

"I began to challenge myself to realise these harms I'd done to others," he said.

Last December, the Cabinet approved the drafting of legislation that would enable licences to be issued for the establishment of medically supervised injection facilities.

Health Minister Simon Harris has said it was hoped that the project would reduce the problems posed by on-street drug use.

Herald

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