18th November 2013
By Bryan T. Smyth
A meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee took place today.
It was held in committee meaning that neither the public nor media
were allowed to attend.
The purpose the special meeting was to discuss a coordinated response
to the the issue of drug taking in Cork City, especially heroin, so it
is understandable that certain information might have been sensitive.
The meeting was addressed by specialists from the HSE, An Garda
Síochána and Cork City Council.
The speakers from the HSE David Lane, coordinator of the Drug &
Declan O’ Brien Clinical lead HSE and Director of Arbour House
Denis O’Driscoll, Chief Pharmacist in Addiction Services, outlined the
extent of the drugs issue and the responses to tackle the issue which
include new clinics & treatment centres, detox facilities, needle
exchange and development of network groups around the issue.
Det. Sgt. Jason Lynch of An Garda Síochána outlined the history of
heroin in the city over the past seven years. He stated that the
numbers using the drug were relatively low but the changes in which
the manner the drug is used was of concern. John Jones of Cork City
Council outlined how the city council were dealing with drug litter
throughout the city. In particular he outlined the numbers of needles
found in public areas fell when sharps bins were placed in those
Chairman of the JPC Cllr. Tony Fitzgerald stated that Heroin is a
personal and public health issue and the meeting informed members of
the situation on the ground relating to Heroin, it considered
proactive measures by Gardai, HSE, Cork City Council and the Cork
Local Drugs Task Force.
Cllr Fitzgerald added that there are coordinated integrated actions to
address the problem and the information that the meeting received
today will go a long way to ease public concern and reassure the
public that a coordinated approach is underway to tackle the problem,
said Cllr Fitzgerald.
A questions and answer session followed the presentation and
panellists included HSE, Garda and City Council experts and the City
Coroner Myra Cullinane was in attendance also.
It was agreed that at the meeting that the Inter-Agency approach was
the best possible outcome to addressing the problem of heroin abuse in
a holistic manner.
Communities needed to be educated on where help is available to those
who are addicted to the drug, and support must be available at
Community level to those who want to get away from the chronic
lifestyle associated with heroin abuse. One of the best practical ways
of doing this was through the projects under the Cork Local Drugs Task
Force and Dept Justice.
The Chairman, Cllr. Tony Fitzgerald, agreed that community education
on the issue was a key factor and the ideal forum would be at the
Local Community Fora level, where Communities could hear from the
agencies involved and be reassured that steps are being taken to
address the issues and for the agencies to hear the impact that the
wider problem of drugs abuse is having at local level. The agencies
involved have committed to this response.