A CHARITY helping drug addicts has provided more sterile crack pipes in Limerick than in Dublin, as Treaty city finds itself in the eye of a deadly drug storm.
Ana Liffey Drug Project chief executive Tony Duffin said he has supplied 1,433 sterile crack pipes to Dublin since 2020, while around 4,600 have been distributed in Limerick during the same period.
Sterile tubing is provided to people with drug addiction as part of needle exchange programs in an attempt to prevent the transmission of viruses and infections.
Mr Duffin said the increase in demand in Limerick could be explained by the fact that Ana Liffey, backed by the HSE, became the main supplier of crack pipes in the city last year, due to the closure of the Limerick pharmacy needle exchange program during the Covid pandemic.
In Dublin City, Ana Liffey had seen her hours cut back on her syringe and crack pipe exchange program resulting from the pandemic, and other organizations have provided crack pipes and needles to people with drug addicts.
Mr Duffin warned that demand for his services in Limerick and the wider Midwest region had nearly doubled in 2020, and that he was unable to expand his services to all areas of the city. due to a lack of public funds.
“We recently applied for funding to expand our team to help us meet the needs of communities on the outskirts of Limerick City such as Weston / Prospect, Southill, Moyross and St Mary’s Park. Unfortunately, until now it has not been possible to secure state funding for an expanded service, and there is no indication that sufficient additional results will be made available to expand this vital service.
A drug supermarket continues to operate from a house in St Mary’s Park in Limerick, despite having been raided by Gardaí on several occasions over the past eight months.
Gardai, the city of Limerick and the county council launched a joint task force last March to tackle drug trafficking in the area with a plan to demolish vacant homes that were being used by local drug gangs to drug store and drug haunts as drug addicts.
Speaking at the launch, Limerick Garda Division Chief, Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche, said: “We are 100% focused on stopping drug trafficking and anti-social behavior in all parts of Limerick. Unfortunately some of the abandoned buildings in the St Mary’s Park area have attracted drug use and we intend to eliminate this with the help of the council and the local community. Sinn Féin City Councilor John Costelloe recently recounted how members of a drug gang recently attempted to intimidate him, including filming and following him, after he exposed their activities.
“The tension is palpable in the air over there. We have drug addicts who roam the streets at will, go into houses, buy their goods and go by taxi or bus, they go out of the area freely, ”Mr. Costelloe said.
Rachel O’Donoghue, head of services at Ana Liffey Drug Project Mid-West, said the crack crisis has now reached critical levels in Limerick and is emerging in towns like Ennis, Thurles and Kilrush.
Limerick Sinn Féin TD, Maurice Quinlivan, said community drug addiction services were “strapped for funding and lives had been destroyed”.
Mr Quinlivan, who is director of the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum, said that “crack is off the scale, probably exceeding heroin levels in the city” and is “one of the most addicting and most difficult to eliminate “.
He warned, “I don’t think people realize the real disaster that crack cocaine will be if it is not tackled. We are seeing its devastation in urban America and it is unfortunately starting in our own city. “