Wexford County Council is expected to carry out a specialised cleaning operation on land at Ferrybank after members of Wexford Tidy Towns discovered a number of used syringes during one of their weekly clean-ups.
The group went out on Saturday morning with the Waterways workers to an area in Kaat's Strand and carried out their usual clean-up. Given the number of volunteers, they decided to also tackle rubbish in the Ferrybank area and picked up a number of bags before inspecting a green area next to the council car park.
Currently, the site has three tents that are being used at regular intervals.
Tidy Towns PRO and coordinator Phil Murphy explained that one person who used the tents was present on the morning and had made efforts to tidy some of the rubbish.
Ms Murphy said: 'We clean up the area all the time but this is the first time there have been tents there. We picked some litter but then discovered a number of syringes.'
She stressed that they were all volunteers, not equipped to deal with such waste items and, because of the discovery, they ceased their work in the interest of their own personal safety.
'There were two or three that we saw but I expect there are more among the rubbish there. It's terrible to see because this is a recreational area used by people with children and animals. It's right next to the car park, over a small wall so it's very accessible.'
Syringes, she said, were something they had come across in other areas of the town.
'I would urge people to be extremely careful if they are using the area because we don't know what else is there.'
She said she could empathise with those who were sleeping rough in the area but stressed the dangers of leaving such hazardous items lying around in what is a public area.
County Council Communications Manager David Minogue explained that in such instances, either council staff quipped with personal protective equipment, or specialist cleaners would be deployed to clean up the area.
'Our staff has, regrettably, had to do this on numerous occasions,' he said, adding that they were aware that the area was, at times, used by homeless people but stressed that many had been offered, and refused, alternative accommodation.
He added that, in the coming months, a new scheme called the 'Housing First Project' was due to be implemented, with a particular focus on helping homeless people through housing, healthcare and other requirements.
'It is a new plan for people who need intervention on a number of grounds, those who might be unable to keep a roof over their heads through conventional methods. Homelessness is a complex issue and this will be an integrated approach to the issue.'