‘Drugs tourism’ forces groups to come together to raise awareness

By Maurice Garvey

LAST year a young man from the country travelled to Clondalkin to purchase drugs, but tragically lost his life as a pedestrian on the N7.

Around this time, staff at Irish Rail noticed increased public drug use/litter and anti-social behaviour at Clondalkin/Fonthill train station and it’s environs.

Grugs Task Force 06

Clondalkin, which has seen a significant increase in the distribution of crack cocaine in the last couple of years, is a location of choice for drug users – many arriving from other parts of the country for crack cocaine and heroin.

The danger with many drug users arriving in Clondalkin from places like Cork, Kildare and Laois, was they are not aware of the support services available nearby.

In response to this ‘drugs tourism’ last December, Irish Rail and gardai teamed up with local drugs projects Clondalkin Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Clondalkin Tus Nua, and CASP, to increase awareness of support services available to people using crack and heroin.

The harm reduction awareness campaign ‘Safe’ was officially launched last week by Frances Fitzgerald TD.

Since the end of January to early February, outreach staff from Tus Nua and CASP have been engaging with users at Clondalkin/Fonthill station – and close to 200 people have availed of their needle and syringe backpack and crack pipe distribution programme.

“We knew from talking with Irish Rail what the busiest days of the week are, with the busiest traffic,” said Jennifer Clancy, Co-ordinator CDATF, who says the outreach has resulted in 208 engagements.

“Given that these individuals were not from the area and not aware of the services locally it placed additional risks on them such as risky drug using behaviour, overdose, death, criminal justice issues and drug related debt intimidation.

“They know there is a supply of crack cocaine in Clondalkin. At the moment we don’t know if it is cheaper or better quality.”

The inter-agency initiative has extended to include the South West Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force and the Ana Liffey Drugs Project from Dublin city centre, with the issue spanning mainly from Kildare train line into Heuston.

Ms Clancy said the co-ordinated response will continue indefinitely “as long as the supply is local”.

Speaking at the launch, gardai said they were encountering a “significant number of drug users in the Lucan areas and Fonthill railway station.”

“Seeking a more holistic perspective, we are working alongside our colleagues in Irish Rail to minimise the impact they may have on other rail users and railway staff,” said Supt Dolan.

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