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Tuesday 3 October 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# streets of dublin
Dublin's drug laneways: One year on, the alleys are still littered with needles
The city centre this afternoon: used needles, a crack pipe – and a syringe just yards from playing children.

IT’S JUST UNDER a year since first took a tour of the injecting alleys and laneways of Dublin city centre.

12 months on, there’s not much change to report.

The lanes are still littered with used syringes and other paraphernalia.

In one part of town, just off Ormond Quay, we found a used needle just a few dozen yards from a packed children’s playground.

Blood-stained tissues, alcohol wipes and tinfoil were strewn in the same doorway near that play area – along with what looked like a broken crack pipe.


“All this means is that somebody has been down here predominantly injecting opiates – so the risk of overdose is great,” the Ana Liffey Drug Project’s Tony Duffin, our guide this afternoon, explained.

We have a culture of polydrug use amongst this group of public injectors – people who would use multiple substances and increase the risk of overdose.

As we walked from the Four Courts and down Abbey Street to the bustling Italian Quarter, we found similar scenes repeated again and again.

Duffin – who has been campaigning for a supervised injection centre in Dublin city centre - talked us through the issues as we went.

If you have some time to spare, you can watch the entire journey on Facebook (we streamed this live on the social media site earlier)…

In the video…

While the drug paraphernalia isn’t always obvious – sometimes it looks for all the world like regular run-of-the-mill street litter – other scenes are more unsettling: one alley, just around the corner from a Luas stop, was filthy with human excrement (we don’t show this in the video).

Someone was sleeping rough, inside a sleeping bag, right alongside.

All along the route, doorways and laneways were full of evidence of substance abuse.

Based on the latest research, Duffin says there’s evidence that around 400 people inject in the public domain in Dublin each month.

“That could be a conservative estimate,” he adds.

We think it could be up in the thousands.

Video by Nicky Ryan 

More on this story: Tony Duffin’s op-ed on Sydney’s experience with supervised injecting – and why it could work here>

Also: The outgoing drugs minister’s walkabout in the laneways of Dublin >

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