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Mayor's call to move the junkies from our centre

THE Lord Mayor of Dublin is taking on the problem of drug addicts on our city streets.

Gerry Breen is suggesting that drug treatment centres should be moved from their current locations where they are concentrated around the city centre.

He argued that drug addicts were turning parts of the city centre into a ghetto and no-go areas and called fortreatment centres to be more evenly spread into the suburbs.

He also called on the Government to speed up laws that would allow gardai to arrest people for begging.

"We shouldn't ghettoise people on drug treatment programmes into the city centre," he said. Mr Breen believes that bringing thousands of addicts into one area is also turning them into easy prey for drug pushers.

"There are parts of the northside that are very hard to walk without encountering people with a drug problem or begging," he said.

He is holding talks with the HSE this week during which he will ask that they consider spreading treatment centres around the suburbs, giving pharmacies more functions and operating mobile methadone vans.

"We need to make the city centre a place where 13-year-olds feel safe coming to shop, where families and older citizens feel safe," Mr Breen said.

"They house them in hostels and B&Bs and then they are dumped out on the street in the mornings and have nowhere to go. The homeless are doing most of the begging," he said.

Two of the city centre's main stations -- Pearse Street and Store Street -- are said to be under severe pressure dealing with relatively petty crimes such as larceny and public disorder.

The idea has been attacked by junior minister Pat Carey who claimed the Lord Mayor was adopting an "out of sight, out of mind approach to drug rehabilitation".

"This sort of attitude is disappointing and runs totally contrary to the spirit of the National Drugs Strategy. That strategy, which Dublin City Council is helping to implement, is all about communities accepting responsibility," Mr Carey said.

"It is certainly not about shunting people and their problems to the suburbs or ghettoising our drug problem."

Mr Breen has called on the Government to speed up the introduction of new measures aimed at deterring begging.

The Fine Gael politician has said that political opposition should not delay the processing of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2010.

The new laws will make it an offence to beg within 10 metres of a business premises.

Mr Breen believes that begging in Dublin is now "organised and on a commercial level".