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Alliance of businesses warns of ‘legal limbo’ in policing under the new Misuse of Drugs Bill

 

  • Gardaí have no legislative culpability for supervised injection rooms
  • Local government and public devoid of any say in how injection centres are operated and managed
  • Bill paves the way for a “national disaster” as centres to be established across the country
  • Bill decriminalises drug use in certain parts of Dublin city

An alliance of businesses representing over 2,000 enterprises in Dublin city, have today warned of serious implications for the criminal justice system on foot of the publication of the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Bill 2017. The Temple Bar Company, Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), and the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), raised concerns over what they view is a “dumbing down” of authority on the possession of illegal drugs.

In a joint statement the three organisations said the Minister of State, Catherine Byrne, in her endeavour to “enhance the dignity, health and well-being of people who inject drugs in public places” through the introduction of these centres, has carelessly rendered the gardaí, local government and the public powerless in the process. “This is a national disaster and the minister and her colleagues need to carefully reconsider the wording of this bill. Yes, supervised centres have worked abroad but only with when there is a holistic approach to their governance.

“In protecting the rights of a person shooting up heroin the minister has essentially decriminalised drugs in Dublin city, and diminished the power of the gardaí, who are mere by-standers to the activities of these drug injection centres because they have no statutory role in how they function.

“Let’s put this into context. Under the Public Order Act 2003, a catering premises can be closed on foot of garda complaints if anti-social incidents have been filed via the district court. There are no such sanctions against the operator of a licensed heroin consumption room. Which begs the question, how there can be greater restrictions on the vendor of a chip shop or a local Spar over a facility where people are injecting illegal drugs into their bodies?

“Other concerns we have relate to the overall management of the drug injection operation. Local government – councillors elected by the people – have no say in how these centres are managed or licensed. This is completely at odds with what happens in other countries.

“The public and their dignity have been cast aside too where these centres are concerns. The draft bill allows the minister to introduce a licensed heroin consumption room in any town in the country without statutory consultation. This flies in the face of local democracy and the safety and well-being of the public at large.”

Donall O’Keeffe, CEO, Licensed Vintners Association

Martin Harte, CEO The Temple Bar Company

Adrian Cummins, CEO Restaurants Association of Ireland

 

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