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Mayor calls for city task force to tackle drugs

Dublin's Lord Mayor has called for a high level Government task force to tackle the city's spiralling drugs problem.

Lord Mayor Christy Burke said he would be prepared to head up the task force himself but it must include representatives of the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Minister for Health with ring-fenced funding, adding, "otherwise we're going 
nowhere".

"There are too many different drug project groups. I would like to see everyone under the one umbrella fighting for the same cause with the same agenda," he stressed.

Cllr Burke added that such a task force should also have representatives of people in recovery "who know what the person on the street needs".

He said he would be "more than willing" to head up the task force himself "if the players want to come forward, I am available".

The Lord Mayor described how he was only too aware what was happening on the streets of the capital city at the moment where addicts were shooting up in broad daylight and tourists and citizens being robbed.

"The reason that you are seeing this chaos and unmanageability by people in addiction is [because] they get Methadone and there is no supervision, there is no back-up and no outreach."

Umbrella

He believes the only solution is residential projects for up to 120 men and women each.

"If you get someone in addiction and you put them out in the open the temptation is so great it's unbelievable."

Mr Burke was adamant that he would not support medically supervised injection centres for addicts in the city. He had seen these in Amsterdam 15 years ago with the dealers sitting in one corner and the medical supervisor in another.

"Its hard to stomach given that over 200 of my constituents have died from heroin and other addictions.

"To go down that road [means] that you are still continuing to feed the habit. The habit can be arrested by concentrating on rehabilitation."

The Lord Mayor accused senior politicians of not being interested in addiction because it did not carry votes, but said since the drugs on Dublin streets are now affecting ordinary people and tourists "they are beginning to wake up and see there is a huge problem out there".

Mr Burke said funding for the task force would have to be ring-fenced.

He claimed funds have been ring-fenced for bankers, for the rich and "for everything under the sun but something that's affecting the lives and well-being of citizens, that is being failed by the State".

csheehy@herald.ie


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