Violent undercurrent to Limerick City’s drug problem

first_img TAGSAlan JacquesAna Liffey Drug projectfeaturedheroinlimerickTony Duffin Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Previous articleThis weeks #LimerickPostNext articleAAA called to account over Limerick street collections Alan Jacques Advertisement Limerick Artist ‘Willzee’ releases new Music Video – “A Dream of Peace” Linkedin Twitter NewsLocal NewsViolent undercurrent to Limerick City’s drug problemBy Alan Jacques – February 12, 2015 1922 WhatsApp Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival center_img Print Vanishing Ireland podcast documenting interviews with people over 70’s, looking for volunteers to share their stories THE Ana Liffey Drug Project Mid-West have provided a positive response to substance abuse in the city through its ‘low threshold — harm reduction’ model since opening its doors in 2012. Limerick Post reporter Alan Jacques met with its outreach team who work with some of the city’s estimated 800 heroin users.Rachel Conway, Team Leader and Aoife Marshall, Project Worker with Mid-West Ana Liffey Drug Project. Picture: Don Moloney / Press 22WHILE the profile of heroin users around the country indicates that many become involved in drugs to cope with past traumas and hurts, a more disturbing picture has emerged on the streets of Limerick.At the height of Limerick’s gangland feud, one young man in a disadvantaged city estate made the “conscious decision” to start using heroin as an escape from the vicious cycle of violence in his community. He said he took heroin so as to be considered unreliable and escape pressure to be involved in gangland activity.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up “By using drugs, he would have been considered unreliable by these criminals and was then left alone and not bothered by the gangs. It would have been very difficult for young men in these areas to escape the feud. He thought he would probably get off heroin easily enough, but 10 years on he was still using,” Dawn Russell, Head of Services at Ana Liffey Drug Project told the Limerick Post.The Ana Liffey Drug Project was established as Ireland’s first ‘low threshold – harm reduction’ service during the height of the drugs epidemic that swept through Dublin’s North Inner City area in the early 1980s. The response to heroin use at the time was muddled at best and for those whose lives were being destroyed by substance abuse, the organisation founded by Jesuit priest Frank Brady must have seemed a ray of light in a time of dark despair.Since opening its doors in Limerick in May 2012, Ana Liffey has engaged with the most marginalised members of society and offered a hand of friendship to those who know little other than despair and chaos in their daily lives. The number using heroin in Limerick is estimated at about 800 and, since setting up in Limerick almost three years ago, Ana Liffey has engaged with 460 heroin users in the Mid-West, with all but about 20 of these located in the city.Based in the Fairgreen, the group operates in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary, among people affected by problem substance abuse, their families and the wider community. Currently engaging with around 120 drug users locally, the organisation provides a range of services including assertive outreach, needle and syringe programme, medical services and assessment for residential treatment.The profile of drug users availing of Ana Liffey’s services nationwide is typically 70/30 in favour of men. However, in Limerick, Ana Liffey staff have noted these numbers balance out at 50/50 between the sexes.They have also noted that drug users in Limerick report issues, seemingly unique to the city.Where many drug addicts report violence and abuse in their past, in Limerick, people presenting to the Ana Liffey claim that this threat of violence and abuse is ongoing for them.“Compared to other regions in the country, we get much higher reports of physical attacks in Limerick. Drug users here are facing that threat of violence every day — it’s imminent,” said Ms Russell.“Be it domestic abuse, sexual abuse, violence, intimidation or family feuds, we have seen a trend in Limerick where substance users are particularly vulnerable. We’ve also heard horror stories from women in Limerick about men, often much older men, who appear to be kind and offer to take them in and give them a bed for the night, only later for these women to be opportunistically attacked or abused. It’s a hellish and chaotic existence,” she added.Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, Tony Duffin, agrees that the profile of its clients in the Mid-West region distinguishes it from other areas.Director of Ana Liffey Drug Project, Tony Duffin“Many of the women who access our services in the Mid-West report that they are victims of significant levels of abuse. Often they do not wish to report their experiences to the Gardaí for fear of reprisal from the alleged perpetrators or their associates — either immediately after reporting or in the years to come,” Mr Duffin explains.The situation for men in the region is also concerning, and they too often report being victims of violence.Mr Duffin said that the fear associated with violence could impact on the individual’s ability to make positive choices.“This is highlighted by the experience of the young man who reported to us that he made a conscious decision to take heroin so that he would be considered unreliable and untrustworthy. In this way, he hoped to escape the pressure he was coming under to be involved in organised crime,” he commented.While the levels of violence reported to the Ana Liffey in Limerick are high compared to other parts of the country, the other issues people experience are similar to those in other areas.“Both men and women are often homeless as well as using drugs problematically. The lasting solutions to these problems are appropriate housing with support, provided on a ‘housing first’ basis, and timely access to suitable treatment and rehabilitation,” Mr Duffin stated.But there’s a distinct lack of options in these areas.“Ultimately, Ireland has limited resources to deal with problem drug use and associated issues. Both nationally and locally, we need to target the resources we have towards evidence informed interventions that reduces the harm drug use causes to individuals, families and communities in cost effective ways.”Most of Ana Liffey’s clients are between 20 and 30 years old and also tend to present as poly-drug users. Funded predominantly by the State, Ana Liffey does not charge for any of its addiction services and team members emphasise the importance of treating its clients with “respect and dignity”.“A lot of the time we are the first to engage and have a real conversation with people. Drugs are a big part of their identity and they tend to isolate themselves, as they have not had very many positive experiences. They are very vulnerable and live totally chaotic and traumatic lives,” said Ana Liffey’s Team Leader in Limerick, Rachel Conway.A direct link has emerged in the city in the last couple of years between young people abusing benzodiazepines, known as ‘benzos’ and ‘upjohns’, and the increase of heroin use. ‘Benzos’ includes drugs such as Xanax and Valium and their more dangerous street versions such as ‘stick’.Ana Liffey have also seen evidence of Limerick drug users taking Lyrica, a prescription drug for controlling seizures and treating nerve pain.“I was on Xanax, I was on more than I should have been. I was out of my head going out doing very stupid things and then I started dabbling with heroin. My mother died three years ago and I got on Xanax first and then I went completely off the rails and pushed everyone that was near to me away,” 22-year-old Ana Liffey service user Carol (not her real name) told the Limerick Post.“I just constantly wanted to be stoned and live in a different world. I’d take anything at all just to take away that reality. My mother and her partner were heroin addicts so I had seen it from a very young age. I knew all about it and I swore I’d never go down that path, but you don’t know what’s in front of you. I had witnessed my mother on heroin since I was around seven or eight up till 18 when she died,” the young woman admits.Research undertaken by homelessness agency Novas Initiatives, revealed that in an 18-month period between May 2012 and November 2013, they responded to 34 overdoses — an average of one incident every two weeks. The first study of its kind in Ireland, it confirmed that benzodiazepines and heroin were the drugs most frequently used by those interviewed in Limerick, with one-fifth injecting daily.This week the Limerick Post joined Ana Liffey Mid-West’s outreach team in the city centre as they set out to provide clean needles and syringes to drug users; a health promotion intervention grounded in the organisation’s harm reduction philosophy.Team Leader Rachel Conway and Project Worker Aoife Marshall both carried plastic bags filled with injecting equipment and other drug paraphernalia such as needles, syringes, water, pots, bins and Vitamin C, available at no cost to those who might need it. The Mid-West outreach team also offers a wide range of advice and support regarding safer drug use and safer injecting techniques, tailored to the drug users needs. The aim of this service is to reduce the damage associated with sharing used injecting equipment.“This all helps the wider community,” Rachel explains.“You can’t just tell them to give up drugs altogether because they are not ready for that. We engage with them and if we get them to trust us, that’s a big thing. We work with them to find a way to be able to look after themselves and keep them safe by not overdosing,” she said.Ana Liffey Drug Project Mid-West team leader Rachel ConwayOne drug user we met begging on Denmark Street is freezing cold so the outreach team buys him a warm coffee and engages him in even warmer conversation to gage his wellbeing. This human interaction manages to bring a smile to the young man’s face and the team moves on happy in the knowledge that he has no pressing health issues.“It’s quiet today. Sometimes they come into town early, get their money and disappear then to buy their drugs,” Rachel points out.Set up as an alternative to the ‘just say no’ abstinence-based approach of the eighties, Ana Liffey works on the frontline engaging and supporting those who’ve slipped off the radar. The organisation’s work brings about positive change in the lives of substance users in a non-judgmental environment.For 22-year-old drug user Carol, this model has made a positive difference.“I made lovely friends here and the support is brilliant. They go out of their way to get you here. They give you help and I want to thank them because they are a very good group of people. God only know where half of us would be without them,” she says.As I depart the Ana Liffey Mid-West team on the city’s streets, the words of Dr Seuss spring into mind: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”For more details on Ana Liffey Drug Project log on to or call their Freephone number 1800 78 68 28. Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Email WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads Facebooklast_img read more

UN calls for more attention to environment amid Zika crisis

first_img Tweet NAIROBI, Kenya (CMC) — The United Nations says the outbreak of the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean has sent a strong signal to the international community that there is a need for increased attention to the linkages between the environment and health.The list of health conditions that can be linked to environmental pollution and degradation is “long and growing”, including skin cancer, lung cancer, asthma, lead poisoning, mercury poisoning, malaria, Ebola and Zika, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) .“There is a growing awareness that humans, through their intervention in the environment, play a vital role in exacerbating or mitigating health risks,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in an address to the UNEP’s Committee of Permanent Representatives — a group of delegates representing more than 140 countries and major groups. They had gathered at the agency’s Nairobi headquarters to prepare for the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, to be held at the end of May.In his remarks, Steiner cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO) which found that 23 per cent of all premature deaths around the world can be attributed to environmental factors. Among children, that figure rises to 36 per cent.“Every year, nearly seven million people die because they are exposed to indoor and outdoor air pollution, from power generation, cook stoves, transportation, industrial furnaces, wildfires, or other causes,” he said. “We are eating into an ecological infrastructure that not only sustains us, but protects us. The fallout from the footprint of human activity in the 21st century seems to grow every year.”The UNEP chief also pointed out that more than two billion people live in water-stressed areas,1,000 children die every day from water-borne diseases, and 42 million life years are lost every year due to natural disasters.Concerning the Zika virus, last week, the World Health Organization launched a global strategy to guide the international response to the spread of the virus and the neonatal malformations and neurological conditions associated with it.The plan also seeks to improve vector control, effectively communicate risks, guidance and protection measures, provide medical care to those affected and fast-track research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, according to the WHO.Dr Natela Menabde, the executive director of the WHO office in New York, told UN member-states, during a briefing to the Economic and Social Council that currently 34 countries have reported the Zika virus, mostly in the Americas and Caribbean.She said seven countries in the region have reported an increase in cases of microcephaly with Brazil registering than 4,700 suspected cases. Share Share HealthInternationalLifestylePrint UN calls for more attention to environment amid Zika crisis by: Caribbean Media Corporation – February 24, 2016center_img 104 Views   no discussions Sharing is caring! Sharelast_img read more

Beat writer Q&A: Orange and White’s Marcel Louis-Jacques discusses Clemson

first_imgSyracuse (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) will match up with Clemson (4-0, 1-0), a team it upset last season when the Tigers were the No. 2 team in the country. Last week, the Orange dominated UConn, 51-21, and the Orange enters the fifth week of the season undefeated for the first time since 1991.To get some insight on the Tigers, The Daily Orange spoke to Orange and White’s Marcel Louis-Jacques.The Daily Orange: What’s the vibe of the team been like after Trevor Lawrence being announced the starter, and now with Kelly Bryant announcing his transfer?Marcel Louis-Jacques: We haven’t gotten any chance to speak the team since he announced he’s transferring but, I think we broke the news to a couple of them on Monday. And there was a little sense of just a “Oh OK,” kind of surprise. But then was quickly you know right back to business. I think Tee Higgins (Clemson wide receiver) even said something along the lines of, “It’s my job to go out there and catch the ball.” So I don’t think that publicly we’re going to get much reaction from anybody on the team. But within the program, Kelly is really well liked and really well respected. So you know with an emotional game like this coming up, I know it’s Week 4 and it had to happen or it’s Week 4 and it had to happen right now, but you know it really couldn’t be worse timing.The D.O.: What have you seen from Lawrence through four games? Was he the clear-cut starter?AdvertisementThis is placeholder textM.L-J: He’s lived up to the hype for the most part. (Texas) A&M, I feel like people remember his first pass of the game that 64-yard touchdown but his drives pretty much stalled out the rest of the way from there. So if you had to point to a concern with this kid, it’s OK in Clemson’s toughest game of the year, on the road, he kind of faltered out a little bit. But, I mean, after the Georgia Tech it was just clear that he deserved the first opportunity in the following week. And Dabo (Swinney) previously told us that if there were going to be a change, that would all see. It would be obvious. And I think Trevor really made it obvious in Week 4.The D.O.: Are the four defensive linemen (Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant and Dexter Lawrence) as good as advertised?M.L-J: Yeah they are. I mean you look at the game film, especially against Georgia Tech. Yeah, the Jackets couldn’t get any sort of leverage. And part of that is, I think, these are guys who have been here two, three, four years, they’re used to that cut blocking scheme. So after that initial push, it was really a whole lot of nothing for Georgia Tech. They were living in the backfield against Texas A&M as well, I mean there were some missed holding calls. I’ll give fans some credit there. I’ve seen the pictures, I’ve seen the film, there were some blown calls. The reason why they were lit up threw the air was not because there was no pressure on Kellen Mond, it was the coverage. It was the defensive backfield. They’ve got to feed off each other to be successful and so far the front has held their hand of the bargain and we’ve kind of yet to see if that secondary can leave up to its.The D.O.: Who’s a player on Clemson SU fans might not know but will after Saturday?M.L-J: Well it depends on how many Clemson highlights you watch but … on offense it’s gotta be Justyn Ross. The kids got six catches and three of them are for touchdowns. He’s 6’4, 210 true freshman and when he gets on the field with Tee Higgins it’s really hard to put all your attention on just one of them. They’re similar builds and they’re both guys that go get the ball. But Ross just seems to get open. His touchdowns, most of them are just wide open. It’s like how do you lose this guy that’s 6-foot-4.The D.O.: Who wins and why?M.L-J: I’ve got Clemson winning. I know the emotion is high, and obviously Syracuse is coming in very confident but ultimately there is too much talent on both sides of the ball back. Syracuse is essentially playing the same exact Clemson thing as last year, minus the three guys or maybe four or five guys. That and I really believe after watching four games that Trevor Lawrence is the real deal. You can’t fake that feeling. Playing at home with these emotions riding high, that it’s just not going to be that close. I think I had Clemson 42-21. I like Syracuse. I just don’t think it’s happening. And I don’t think it’s happening for most teams that play Clemson this season. Comments Published on September 27, 2018 at 8:44 pm Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more