The Government should set up a pilot project to test illegal drugs at music festivals – in what would be Ireland’s first-ever trial of the harm reduction tool.
But an expert committee making the recommendation said the support of the Department of Justice and An Garda Síochána was “required” and said law enforcement barriers “remain an obstacle”.
The report of the HSE-led working group recommends a limited pilot project at festivals – described as ‘back of house’ drug checking – whereby tests are conducted on substances dropped into amnesty bins or following seizures by gardaí or security with no direct interaction with drug users.
These are different from more extensive ‘front of house’ drug checking systems – common at festivals and nightclubs abroad – where people directly hand over substances for analysis and receive results and allow for face-to-face health advice.
The HSE report comes amid recent concerns in Britain at both the high purity of MDMA (ecstasy) tablets and the circulation of other substances, such as euthylone, in pills and powders at festivals, in addition to reports of drug-related deaths at some events.
Source: Cormac O'Keeffe, Irish Examiner, 17th September 2021