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Now the drug zombies have even swamped Grafton Street

Working slap bang in the middle of north inner city Dublin, junkies have always been a part of my day.

Stepping over the bones of strung-out drug addicts as I venture across the road for a cup of coffee is nothing new.

Dodging the throng of methadone-fuelled zombies who seem to descend on Talbot Street at around 9.30am every day is entirely normal to me.

It's like a scene from Night (and Day) of the Living Dead.

However, there was always an escape -- a short hop over O'Connell Bridge to Grafton Street.

I always feel safer there, as if there is less of chance that I'll be stabbed in the face with a dirty needle.

The streets seem cleaner, the people seem friendlier and the fear factor decreases considerably.

That was until yesterday.

As I stepped over the bones of a junkie crumpled up in a doorway in a street off Grafton Street, I realised things have changed on the Southside of the city.

I should probably be grateful that at least he had the decency to attempt to hide the tin foil and needle.

As I walked up Grafton Street, a strung-out young man lunged at me with his cup and asked for change.

For me, they were junkies, no big deal. I play a daily game of dodge the drug addict on Talbot Street.

But I'm sure for the more gentile elements of society, and especially our much needed tourists, this is a shock.

Merchant Quay Ireland said today that the number of heroin addicts was continuing to grow -- and it's showing.

Grafton Street no longer feels like an escape from the norm -- it's as dirty, seedy and threatening as the well-known dangerous parts of the capital.


The begging problem has also spiralled out of control on that side of the city. They've upped sticks and moved across the Liffey for the promise of more treasure.

Sometimes limbless, often lifeless bodies with handmade signs are giving visitors to this country a unique Cead Mile Failte.

A friend spotted a man near St Stephen's Green the other day with a sign reading "true Dub, down on luck, cash only".

I wonder, would he take Laser?

It's not that we don't know problems like drug addiction and homelessness exist. It's just that when we're expecting people to enter our capital and part with their hard-earned cash on shopping or eating out, they shouldn't have to be confronted with such depressing scenes.

Getting people to spend is generally acknowledged as a way out of this crippling recession.

But by displaying our dirty washing on Dublin's busiest shopping street, this won't happen.