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Inner city

'Worse now than the heroin epidemic of the 80s' - Christy Burke on drugs in Dublin

The Lord Mayor said the capital’s problems haven’t changed that much in the 30 years he has been a councillor.

Video / YouTube

Video: Michelle Hennessy/

DUBLIN’S LORD MAYOR Christy Burke has said that the drugs problem in Dublin is worse now than it was during the heroin epidemic thirty years ago.

During the 1980s, Burke was a prominent member of the Concerned Parents Against Drugs movement.

It was heroin in my day, today it’s prescribed pills, cocaine, benzos, hash, dalmane, librium, valium: it’s a whole cocktail.

Burke said authorities are not adequately dealing with the issue, and has called for more residential beds and treatment centres for addicts.

He said that 300 people died from heroin in his constituency at the height of the epidemic, adding that the current anti-drugs model in the capital only “scratches the surface”.

Burke said addicts leave centres in the afternoon with nowhere to go and are offered drugs that evening.

“It’s very hard to say ‘no’ when you’re vulnerable to addiction.”

He told it was extremely hypocritical that some people want the methadone centres to help addicts, but not in their own area.

I don’t buy into that, honest to God, I really don’t buy into any of that type of crap to be honest with you. Because that type of behaviour happened in Amiens Street in 1985 when a methadone clinic was introduced and there were people opposing it. Some of them ended up in it and some of their sons and daughters were on [heroin]. So where do you put it?

Everyone with an addiction has the right to recovery. Nobody woke up one morning and said: ‘I’m going to become a heroin addict or a cocaine addict, so bring it on.’ … Do they object to pubs in their area? No. So the myth that’s out there that methadone [clinics] shouldn’t be there is hypocrisry of the highest level.

Burke said he understands why people are scared of addicts because they “roar and shout and scream by nature”.

“It’s the addiction, the aggressiveness. Joe or Mrs Citizen on the street rightly gets nervous about that. There has to be something done in relation to that.”

Burke said crime drama Love/Hate showed an accurate portrayal of what happens on Dublin’s streets:

“I could have wrote that script because that’s what does go on in certain areas.”


Burke said that some days he feels like resigning over the sheer scale of the homelessness crisis.

The mayor helps to provide food and clothing for people living on Dublin’s streets alongside Inner City Helping Homeless. Last night the group counted 86 rough sleepers.

Burke was one of the driving forces behind the emergency homeless summit that took place in Dublin on 4 December following the death of Jonathan Corrie just meters from Leinster House.

I welcome the government’s announcements – they should have been done 20 years ago, they weren’t listening to me 20 years ago. Unfortunately poor Jonathan Corrie had to die outside a national parliament for it to become a national disgrace.

Then after that when I took Enda Kenny out on a run to show him the real homelessness then there’s €25 million put on the table, there’s 270 beds found within a week, there was an all-night café, there was €2.2 billion housing programme…

Burke said that no matter what is done some people will still remain on the streets as homelessness is such a complex issue.

Social housing

The government has promised to provide 5,384 social housing units this year.

This morning alone, Burke said he received 56 calls about housing issues, including one from a woman who had attempted suicide last night due to uncertainty over where she and her children would live.

“The supply isn’t there to meet the demand.”

It drains me, I can’t say otherwise. I mean, on Monday we had 106 calls. It goes on. It gets me, the frustration of it gets me.

Today is getting to me, where people turn to me and I’m as destitute as they are. There’s nothing I can do because the system doesn’t allow me to do anything.

Originally published 8.01pm

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