Concern as used syringes are found scattered across Limerick city

Daniel Keating

Reporter:

Daniel Keating

Syringes have been found in lanes and near schools

Syringes have been found in lanes and near schools in Limerick

CONCERN has been expressed over the use of hard drugs after 27 syringes were discovered across Limerick city in one week - including some near schools.

According to a member of a prominent city centre project, this is not the only time they have come across a significant amount of used syringes and it is “something that we come across regularly.”

“One week you wouldn’t see anything and the next week you could come across 10,” said the man, who did not want to be identified.

When the Limerick Leader visited the centre, the syringes, both capped and uncapped, were being stored in a large sharps box, a disposable plastic container which is used to store sharp objects including needles. When the box is full, it is handed over to the local authority.

“My biggest fear would be a child picking up something like that because the majority of them would be uncapped,” said the project leader who collects the syringes.

“There were some of them found near a school,” he added.

While the amount of syringes collected “has gone down compared to last year” the sight of any syringes on the city streets is “worrying” he said.

“I haven’t fully filled a box in a long time. We had some serious problems in our area between prostitution and people excreting in lanes. The reason I became involved in the project is I saw with my own eyes a child blowing up a condom. The antisocial behaviour has kind of moved away and we do come out with a friendly attitude, so we can avoid confrontation,” he added.

INTO spokesperson for Limerick and principal of Ballybrown National School, Joe Lyons, has described the issue of syringes being found near schools as “very worrying”.

“It’s a huge worry for schools and it's just an extra onus on people working in schools to be extra vigilant. I do know that lots of principals and caretakers come in early in the morning to check the grounds for issues like this,” he explained.

The principal, who has heard of this issue arising “from time to time and not just in Limerick”, said: “Schools need auxiliary staff like caretakers to be aware of issues like this.”

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan has described the finding of such an amount of used and discarded syringes across the city as “distressing”.

“Unfortunately I wouldn't be shocked to hear this, what people need to do is ring the council and to be fair they do. People need to be safe around needles, it's very distressing to see needles," he explained.

The Limerick TD said it was not only needles that are being discarded and pointed out an ongoing issue in relation to discarded paraphernalia across the city.

“You would see other paraphernalia at times as well like burned tinfoil, which would suggest it was used to smoke heroin,” he said.

The Sinn Fein deputy believes that more funding is needed in the area of drug awareness which would result in more training for community staff so that they know how to collect the materials correctly.

“There is a few areas where we should be putting extra boxes in certain parts of the city, which can be collected regularly by the council and then be discarded,” added Deputy Quinlivan.

A spokesperson from the HSE said: “We would share the concerns of Deputy Quinlivan regarding the number of syringes stated to have been found locally.

“In order to enable further investigation, the HSE would encourage both Deputy Quinlivan and the public to provide further details of such sightings to ensure the appropriate action is taken.

“The HSE has been to the fore in terms of Needle Exchange and other proactive measures to ensure safe disposal of syringes, and would be very concerned about any practices as outlined by Deputy Quinlivan.”

When a spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council was contacted they stated: “When sharps are encountered by cleansing staff, the sharps are placed into a sharps box that is available or they contact their supervisor, advising them of the location, this is so they can attend to and  remove the sharps.

"At no time are the sharps handled directly but are picked via a litter picker. The sharps boxes are stored in a secure location, and disposed of via an approved medical waste disposal company.”

Training has been provided to cleansing staff on identification and safe handling of sharps.

“Sharps also form part of our risk assessments included in our Health and Safety plans that are reviewed on an annual basis with all our outdoor staff,” added the Council spokesperson.