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"They were broken, full of blood" - four-year-old girl pricked by used syringe in Dublin

Catherine Leonard has described how her daughter came upon a bag of discarded syringes close to their home.

Updated 8pm

catherine2 The needles that were found in the bag Source: Facebook

A DUBLIN MOTHER has told of how her four-year-old daughter came upon a bag of used drug syringes and pricked herself on one.

Catherine Leonard’s daughter had been playing with her friends close to their home at Ard na Meala, Ballymun, on Friday evening last, 2 September.

The children came upon a discarded Super Valu bag close to a wall beside the houses, but not visible from within the house itself.

“My husband found them playing at 7.30pm,” Catherine told

They were out playing at the front of the green just in front of the house, about 10 yards away. Kids being kids they went to investigate the bag.

“My husband went down to fetch the kids for bedtime,” she says. “He found them digging a hole with the needles and let a roar and the three of them dropped them. They didn’t know they were doing anything wrong.”

There were about eight to 10 used syringes inside, says Catherine. “They were broken and full of blood. There were bloody tissues in the bag and the kind of stuff you use for cooking drugs.”

We brought the kids back inside and scrubbed them clean – the skin didn’t seem to be broken. Then after things had calmed down my little one came in and said ‘we were only playing a game, we took the plastic off and stuck it in’.
That was when I first realised she’d been punctured. She said: ‘it only hurt for a minute when it scraped me’.

catherine 1 The bag that contained the syringes remained at the wall near the houses until the following day

Blood tests

Catherine says that her husband called the gardaí at 7.45pm, however no patrol ever arrived. Dublin City Council (DCC) was likewise notified.

The gardaí said in a statement this evening that the incident was reported to An Garda Siochana and the matter is currently being investigated.

Her husband removed the syringes from the bag. They were subsequently brought to Temple Street Children’s Hospital that evening as the family brought their daughter in for blood tests.

“I’m heartbroken with this. I was on the floor and someone had to pick me up when I realised what happened,” says Catherine.

She only started school on Monday. It should have been a happy week.

Catherine says that the staff at Temple Street have given her “some reassurance”: “They said that you need about two millilitres of fresh blood before you need to start worrying about HIV, and the blood in them was old. We’re hoping to get some results this week.”

Her daughter is now on a course of strong antibiotics for the next week.

“She’s oblivious to all this, but it’s absolutely sickening for us,” says an emotional Catherine, who says the only person who would help her was local Sinn Féin councillor Noeleen Reilly, who contacted DCC that evening at 9pm on behalf of the family with a view to getting the rubbish removed.

Speaking regarding the incident, Reilly said: “My heart goes out to the parents involved.”

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“It is now not safe for children to play outside their homes,” she said.

ardnameala Ard na Meala, Ballymun Source: Google Maps

Someone just dumped a bag of needles without a care in the world for who would find them. This is totally unacceptable for anyone to do this whatever issues they may have.
After repeated requests the rubbish was still there, though the needles had been removed, and this is after many calls to Dublin City Council and the gardaí.  The response has not been adequate and is a direct result of funding cuts within Ballymun.


Catherine says that despite repeated requests to both DCC and the gardaí the rubbish wasn’t removed from the area until 5pm the following day.

She says that when she called to Ballymun Garda Station the next day she reported to a Garda on duty that she had found a receipt in the Super Valu bag from the local store dated Thursday 1 September.

“She just said to me that even if they could identify whoever had paid for the goods there was no guarantee that it was them who had dumped the bag,” says Catherine.

“We’re ten years in that house and this is the first time I’ve seen something like this,” she added. has contacted both Dublin City Council and the gardaí regarding this matter.

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