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Home > Misuse of Drugs (supervised injecting facilities) Bill 2017: Second stage (resumed).

[Oireachtas] Misuse of Drugs (supervised injecting facilities) Bill 2017: Second stage (resumed). (09 Mar 2017)


Deputy Gino Kenny: I welcome this progressive Bill. Anything that prevents deaths and promotes harm reduction in this city is very good. Supervised injecting rooms give people access to treatment, take people off the streets and give them alternative means of gaining access to the drug they take. In addition, they reduce the number of overdoses.

 

I have seen the social damage that heroin has done to the community I lived in. I saw friends of mine die from heroin abuse. I saw at first hand the absolute tragedy of what heroin does to communities. The Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, will appreciate that herself. In the area she represents, she will have seen the absolutely appalling damage drugs have done to people. Nobody on this earth grows up wanting to be a heroin addict. It is not of their choosing; it is because of circumstances. We all make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes are fatal.

 

It is very good that we are having a debate in this country on the decriminalisation and liberalisation of drug use. We are getting there. It is very important to have the discussion. A number of Deputies will agree that this issue is more about treating people holistically and according to a health-based approach rather than treating them as criminals. Would we lock up a chronic alcoholic in a prison? We would not. We would give him treatment and try to give him a plan to move beyond the circle of chronic abuse. I hope a day will come when a chronic abuser of heroin or another drug will be able to bypass the criminal justice system and be treated according to an holistic, health-based approach. That is very important.

 

References to the Portuguese model are bandied about a lot. This is important because if we can save one life, it will have been well worth the effort. I was in Portugal last year and asked many people about how the system works for people there. If a person is caught in possession of a certain amount of drugs there, he or she is not criminalised but given an alternative.

 

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