THE HSE HAS begun discussions with organisations that could provide drug-testing at festivals ahead of a working group, tasked with tackling the issue, beginning next month.
In 2017, the government announced that, as part of the national drug strategy, a working group involving health professionals, festival organisers and advocacy groups would be established to examine harm-reduction measures among drug-users at festivals.
A delay in setting up the group prompted criticism from politicians and advocates who were concerned at the length of time it has taken for the group to be established, particularly after a 19-year-old lost his life at a Cork festival two weeks ago.
However, a senior HSE doctor told TheJournal.ie that a team has begun liaising with a number of bodies that could provide drug-testing in Ireland.
Dr Eamon Keenan, the HSE’s national clincal lead in addiction services, said there was “an interesting appetite” among the parties who have laboratories capable of testing drugs before and during events.
“We have reached out to laboratories and we have had a number of discussions with them in relation to drug-testing and they are keen on it,” he said.
“If you’re looking at drug testing, you have to have a good machine, be able to identify quantity and identify unknown substances, otherwise you give a false sense of security.
“So we’re at a point where there is this expertise and knowledge and there is an interesting appetite for it.”
Source: Conor McCrave, The Journal, 13th August 2019