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Stark warning about inner-city drug use

WORRYING: Councillor Tina Black on Genoa Street; below and top right, some of the needles that have been found in recent weeks WORRYING: Councillor Tina Black on Genoa Street; below and top right, some of the needles that have been found in recent weeks
By Michael Jackson

A community rep has warned about an increase in visible drug use around the Lower Falls and Grosvenor areas.

The worsening heroin problem in the area has become increasingly visible in areas close to the city centre in recent months. The latest warning comes following the discovery of used hypodermic needles near a community leisure centre in the Grosvenor.

Sinn Féin Councillor and Grosvenor Leisure Centre worker, Tina Black, has urged people in the area to report any signs of drug use in the area.

“Since the start of July I have found six batches of needles in and around the Falls, and that’s including the Grosvenor, Ardmoulin, the back of the Westlink, the Divis back path and the bottom of Distillery Street,” she said.

“Last Thursday, thankfully a lot of residents got in touch with me early and said that there was a lot of drug paraphernalia in Genoa Street and Distillery Street, which is the wee side path coming into the leisure centre here. That path is used by all of our families. These needles were sitting out very visibly. I got in touch with Belfast City Council and warned the entire area not to lift them. The council were very prompt in lifting.

“I would just implore people who are finding needles to report it. The more data we have about how they are found, when they are found the better.

“I’m of the opinion that vulnerable people need support services, but I don’t think that the current strategies are fit for purpose. We had a West Belfast Drugs panel and they completed their report in 2018, and if anybody took the time to read it there were some recommendations in it that I thought were really innovative. They may have been a bit leftfield for some people, but it suggested some real practical solutions to some of the issues.

“The inner-city community at the minute – and I can only speak for the Falls – are feeling that there is an increase in needles and visible drug use. The crime stats will back this up. I know that the ambulance call-outs back this up. If I’ve found six batches from the start of July – and that’s only from walking around the area – then you can

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