SDCC finds nitrous oxide use prevalent in several parks around county

27 new nitrous

South Dublin County Council has released its initial results from a pilot mapping project into the use of nitrous oxide as an inhalant in the county.

The scheme was launched earlier this year after local councillors voiced concern over the seemingly increasing usage of the gas as a recreational drug.

Sinn Féin councillor for Palmerstown Derren Ó Brádaigh said he both welcomes and is concerned about the data collected to date.

Ó Brádaigh was speaking after he received a detailed response to a question that he tabled at a council meeting this month.

“Worrying, but not surprising details have this week been confirmed to me, regarding the gathering of data since my motion in July, as to the locations where discarded nitrous oxide cannisters have been reported and or removed by council work crews,” he says.

The recording of this data has been undertaken by the Public Realm Department since August which collected the silver cannisters from 18 major locations.

“Together with more general anti-social related incidences occuring in our public parks, this really does raise questions about how we monitor our own park spaces and what can we do to take them back,” Ó Brádaigh said.

“My understanding is that this mapping exercise was to take place for a period of three to four months, however I am encouraged to learn that the intention is to continue the pilot for 12 months up until next summer in order to garner a fuller picture,” he says.

“In July I had this motion agreed at a sitting of the full council meeting.

“I believe that more needs to be done, and for that reason I asked that the council agree to write to the Minister for Public Health, Well-Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, with a view to rolling out a national awareness campaign.

“I welcome the recent new colour advertisements on the HSE website warning of the dangers in this regard, but we need to take greater action.”

“It is also intended that other departments such as Housing will be asked to provide any relevant information that they have on the matter and this will be collated with public realm information.”

Ó Brádaigh says that due to the nitrous oxide cannisters, or “silver bullets”, not being illegal, it is very easy for people to purchase them.

“Unfortunately, the use of this substance is not illegal and anecdotal evidence suggests that the cannisters can be easily purchased online,” he says.

“In speaking to the motion back in July, I made the case that we need to engage the manufacturers of this product in finding a solution, as we all have a responsibility in protecting our youth, despite the downplaying of this malpractice by some.

“I will continue to request updates on this excellent pilot project, and I look forward to the final results being utilised to better understand the nature of this problem, and for the information to be shared with all those groups that work tirelessly with the victims of drug and substance abuse in bringing their expertise into play,” he says.

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