Thursday 17 August 2017

Watch: Men smoking drugs in phonebox - 'They are crime sites, it's hard to tell if people in them are dead sometimes'

Mark McConville

Mark McConville

Phoneboxes are widely being used to smoke and deal drugs and should be removed, Cllr Mannix Flynn has claimed.

The Dublin City Councillor was speaking after this shocking footage was captured of three men appearing to smoke heroin in two adjoining phoneboxes in plain view on Dublin's Merrion Square.

The men are huddled in the booths and seem to be holding drug paraphanelia.

Independent Cllr Flynn said that scenes like this are becoming increasingly common and that phoneboxes are being used as a cover for drug use.

He told Independent.ie: "It happens in phoneboxes all over the city. We are trying to remove all phones boxes from the city. There's a huge amount of phoneboxes being used.

"It’s a huge problem. They aren’t just used to shoot up but to also score/pick up drugs.

"Phoneboxes are sites of crime and very rarely used by the public. I received complaints daily from the public and I have hundreds of photos to prove it."

Cllr Flynn also spoke about the difficulties facing campaigners in trying to get the phoneboxes removed.

He said: "It took us five years to get the phonebox removed from Georges Street and six years to get the phonebox removed from Arran Street. "It isn’t as easy process because the phone companies that own them make money on advertising, so they are in no hurry to help us remove them.

"Phoneboxes are no longer fit for purpose and should be removed for the safety of the public.

Councillor Mannix Flynn
Councillor Mannix Flynn

"There are times the advertising is covering the whole box so its hard to tell if the person is dead or what they’re doing.

"They aren’t policed or maintained, it's everywhere and the law has not come down on it. This kind of thing would never happen in London."

Read More: Injection centres for addicts won't tackle drug crime

He also claimed that supervised injecting centres won't help the problem.

Aodhan O Riordain. Photo: Collins
Aodhan O Riordain. Photo: Collins

He said: "The idea of injection rooms will never work. We need more treatment centres and detox centres.

"I work with these people on a daily basis. I try and help the best I can but the idea of injection rooms will not change a thing. You’re being duped. "There is no thing as a safe injecting area with an addict. The only thing this is doing is normalising drug use."

Senator Aodhan O'Riordain has long championed the idea of supervised injecting facilities and said we must act fast to introduce them here.

He said: "The president signed Injecting Centre Bill last week so there is no need for any further delay, the minister should act immediately to seek tenders for first centre.

"Indecision on future of various cabinet positions not helping. People literally dying on the streets.

Minister of State for Communities and National Drug Strategy: Catherine Byrne Photo: Tom Burke
Minister of State for Communities and National Drug Strategy: Catherine Byrne Photo: Tom Burke

"The debate is over and it's time for the Minister to make it happen."

Read More: Minister's tour of 'shooting up' lanes strenghtens call for injecting centres

Catherine Byrne, Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, said that the first injecting room should be opened later this year and she said she believes it will tackle drug abuse here.

She said: "They’re plenty of services available now that try and counter drug use on the streets and the Injection Centre Bill was just passed, so it will take a couple of months to get sorted.

"We are planning to be open for end of September, start of October. This will help with the drug problem and help bring users to a safe environment."

She also alleged that she had never heard of people using or dealing drugs in phoneboxes before.

Deputy Byrne said: "I’ve never witnessed anyone doing this and I’ve never had a complaint about this (smoking heroin in a phonebox).

"We have police on the streets but obviously they can’t be everywhere at once. There is drug taking around the city, but no, I have never witnessed it happening."

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