Wednesday 23 May 2018

Dublin’s police chief says supporting injection centres 'is the right thing to do'

Pat Leahy
Pat Leahy

Kyle Ewald

Dublin’s police chief said An Garda Síochána is supporting the upcoming supervised injection centres because it is the “right thing to do”. 

Speaking at the Dublin City Council joint policing committee, Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy said “policing never cured drug addiction”, and backing the centres is not just about enforcing Government policy, but saving lives.

Mr Leahy was discussing the proposed medically supervised injection facility (MSIF) following a presentation from the head of HSE addiction services, Dr Eamon Keenan.

Dr Keenan told the committee debating the proposal that MSIF will both save the lives of the most struggling injectors and be cost-effective. According to North American estimates, the HSE will recoup €5.47m in savings in comparison to the €2.8m that is being spent on the centre.

The contract for a pilot MSIF centre has been awarded to Merchants Quay Ireland in Dublin city centre. The next step is seeking planning permission from Dublin City council which creates the possibility of appeal by An Bórd Pleanála.

Dublin Councillor Cieran Perry, who strongly opposes the centre, said a “legal grey are” will be created if the project went through, saying it is unfair to have gardaí decide if the possession of heroin is illegal or not.

Mr Leahy acknowledged that there would be a “learning curve” and gardaí were “going to have to use discretion”, but they can’t search everyone and can only do so under reasonable suspicion.

The Dublin police chief said surveillance would be used to identify the actual dealers, not users, which he said is common practice.

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