Councillor Derren Ó Brádaigh has raised even further concern at the latest result findings from data collated from a twelve-month pilot mapping project, currently being conducted by South Dublin County Council, into the misuse of nitrous oxide as an inhalant across the county. Ó Brádaigh was making the comments following correspondence he received from the Minister for Drugs, Frank Feighan and after yet another update report from the Council that he received, in the form of a detailed response to an official question that he recently poised.
Cllr Ó Brádaigh said; “Following a motion that I had tabled last year, the Council agreed to carry out a pilot project that would record all locations at which discarded nitrous oxide cannisters were removed or reported between August 2021 and August 2022. The purpose of this exercise is to identify any trends, highlight any specific problem areas, and to share this information with local task force expert groups, working to better understand and treat users of drug and substance misuse.
“The problem in my view has escalated beyond the smaller ‘silver bullets’ with commercial or ‘super-sized’ cannisters now being purchased and discarded in public parks, hedgerows and shopping centre car parks across the community. The larger cannisters equate in volume to that of 50 of the smaller silver cartridges. In areas with high volumes of drug litter, it would also be helpful in my view, to identify the user groups and how local services can engage to provide education, harm reduction and on-going support.
“The European Drugs Agency (The EMCDDA) will conduct a technical report on the substance nitrous oxide later this year, to which Ireland has submitted a case study. Irish data on user groups and health harms are included within this review, however, it is acknowledged that some groups may not be represented, which is why local service engagement in areas recording drug-related litter is important to help understand this emerging trend in an Irish context.
“The general sale of nitrous oxide is prohibited under existing legislation as outlined in the response that I received from the Minister. Therefore, it is increasingly frustrating that finds of discarded cannisters are so prevalent around our communities, with misuse more often than not, amongst younger and more vulnerable teenagers. Although there has been an awareness campaign of sorts in this regard, it seems clear to me that something is not working, and I would support the outright ban on the sale of this product.”