Renewed calls for drug testing at Irish festivals following UK deaths

June 5, 2018

The Ana Liffey Drug project are keen to provide the service, while the matter will be considered at the Sinn Féin Ard Dheis.

The Ana Liffey Drug Project has reiterated its willingness to provide professional drug testing at Irish music festivals following the death of two people, Georgia Jones, aged 18, and 20-year-old Tommy Cowan at the Mutiny weekender in Portsmouth. Three men have subsequently been arrested on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs at the event, which was immediately cancelled as a safety precaution.

“The tragic deaths of young festival goers in the UK at the weekend is a wakeup call to us all,” says Ana Liffey CEO, Tony Duffin. “We know that it is safest not to use unknown or illicit drugs at all, but we also know that over the summer some festival goers will use drugs and drink to excess. These are not bad or stupid people, they are someone’s son, daughter, mother, father, aunt or uncle. We want everyone who goes to a festival this summer to come home safely.

“The possession of drugs is illegal in Ireland and festival security and An Garda Síochána will do all they can to stop drugs circulating at festivals; however, it is simply not possible to prevent drug use at festivals,” Duffin continues. “Drug use is a complex issue that requires a health led response in line with our national strategy. The strategy also mandates us to strengthen early harm reduction responses to current and emerging trends and patterns of drug use, and a working group is to be set up under the strategy to examine drug testing as one possible intervention. At Ana Liffey, we are committed to working in partnership to provide harm reduction information and interventions to people who use drugs at festivals.”

Meanwhile, a motion calling for drug testing at Irish festivals is being presented to June 15 and 16’s Sinn Féin Ard Dheis in Belfast by Senator Fintan Warfield.

In it, Warfield notes: “The rise in drug use amongst people at music festivals, the inevitability that drugs will be used by a percentage of people attending such festivals, and that the manufacture of such drugs is carried out by those who do not adhere to any level of health and safety standards.”

He also points to: “The incidences of ‘bad batches’ that have resulted in overdoses, health emergencies and the death of festival attendees.”

The Senator praises The Loop, a UK initiative, “which offers confidential drug testing services at music festivals, tests drug purity, and ensures that those who consider using drugs are safer from harm.”

We’ll let you know how the motion gets on…

Source: Hot Press, 30/05/18 

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