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jervis lane

Plan to tackle drug use in laneway near busy Dublin shopping street

Local businesses have reported open drug use, violence and sometimes sexual activity in the lane.

dav Jervis Lane. Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

A MULTI-AGENCY plan has been put together to try to address issues of anti-social behaviour, and particularly drug use, in a laneway off a busy Dublin shopping street.

Business owners around Mary Street have become increasingly concerned about the levels of open drug use in Jervis Lane during the daytime.

Businessman Martin Gear, who owns the jewellers right next to the lane, told that this has been an ongoing issue for a number of years.

“There’s a constant presence of homeless people there. There’s drug dealing, people meeting there, once or twice people having sex in the lane, fighting and people living there basically. There is between four and six people who live there on a permanent basis,” he said.

“You’d get people occasionally and they would have a syringe in their hand and that’s a sort of menacing thing to see – you don’t know what they’re going to do with it.”

Gear said he has suggested the alcove at the back of one of the buildings be closed off, as that is the space in which drug users tend to congregate.

Used syringes

A caretaker cleaning rubbish out of the lane said he frequently finds used syringes and empty cans strewn about.

Axa Insurance, which backs onto Jervis Lane, has recently installed a speaker so security staff can tell people to move on when they are hanging around the back of the company’s building.

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

Gareth Quearney runs Mr Middleton garden shop on Mary Street. He said there have been a number of occasions when ambulances have been called to the lane because of apparent drug overdoses.

“It is horrific, these people have problems, big problems.”

Though he said there is an issue with drug use in the lane, “the poor unfortunates don’t interfere with anyone if they can help it”.

We’d like to move it further astream, but that’s not fixing the problem, that’s just moving it out of the way.

‘Not a policing issue’

A meeting was convened last Friday, involving some of the local businesses and council and garda representatives.

Richard Guiney of Dublin Town, who organised the meeting, told that a “regime” had been put together to address the issues.

“My view on anti-social issues is that the approach should be on a holistic basis. It has to be a combined approach, so we try to link people in with resources that can help them.”

We’ve done this in similar areas and it’s been shown to have success.

He said that while gardaí had said they would “do their piece”, this problem would not be solved by policing alone.

His comments were mirrored by Tony Duffin, of the Ana Liffey drug project, who said there is a need to address the underlying health issues “because what people are complaining about is just the physical manifestation”.

“The guards won’t be found lacking in terms of trying to address the problem from their perspective, but it’s not a policing issue, it’s a health issue.”

This is just one lane, off one street, in one Irish city, but Duffin said its issues are indicative of the wider problem.

It’s difficult to say we can find solutions that will absolutely eradicate these problems, but by addressing the underlying issues we’re able to reduce these behaviours.

He said he believes initiatives like the planned supervised injection centres would help, particularly in relation to public injecting.

‘Shooting up’

Though Friday’s meeting left business owners feeling more positive about the planned approach, Gareth Quearney said he saw two men “shooting up behind a cardboard box” on Monday at his end of the lane.

“I haven’t seen that in a long time, they’re usually down the other end. I didn’t know about that meeting, but maybe that’s why they’ve moved.”

Richard Guiney, while admitting that issues in the lane were “concerning”, said similar problems with drug use and anti-social behaviour had been addressed in places like Harbour Court Lane off Lower Abbey Street.

“It’s fairly evident that there have been improvements around O’Connell Street and Henry Street in recent years,” he said.

There’s been a dramatic improvement in terms of a lot of the drug issues we would have been dealing with.

“It will take time before that really seeps into public consciousness.”

Read: Those big plans for injection centres and decriminalisation could now be reversed>

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