Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said efforts must be made to encourage IV drug users to appropriately dispose of needles and alert them of the dangers of heedlessly littering sharps, especially in public spaces.

The General Election Candidate in Dublin South Central was commenting following the discovery of a number of used syringes in Cherry Orchard Park close to Clifden Drive, Dublin earlier this month.

Senator Ardagh said, “I am concerned for those injecting illicit drugs but especially for the broader hazards of improperly disposing of used syringes. These syringes are likely contaminated and possibly transmit blood borne disease or infection, therefore it is critical that they are removed appropriately and safely exposed of by authorities.

“This area is popular with local young people and children – I dread to think that they could be at risk or accidentally harmed by one of these needles. Syringes have been discovered by residents on more than one occasion and they have been left with no alternative but to remove the syringes themselves.

“While this appears to be becoming a problem in Cherry Orchard Park, I am aware of other green space in the city where they’ve been found. Dublin City Council has a certain degree of responsibility to ensure that there are resources in place to respond to these reports and protect public health.

“Ultimately, offering new for used syringes is essential to safeguarding those that may stumble upon sharps that have not been properly disposed of by someone in addiction. Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSPs) are hugely important this regard.

“Local and Regional Drug Taskforces have been severely curtailed in recent times and given the cuts to funding most have been forced to limit the provision of a needle exchange programme in their community.

“For the sake of both those suffering in addiction and members of the public who are indirectly affected by the drugs crisis, we must examine the means of restoring an appropriate level of funding to the Local and Regional Task Forces.

She concluded, “Members of the public, residents and in particular children need to also be reminded to be vigilant and report any finds.”