Horrified volunteers cleaning up Booterstown Reserve had a lucky escape at the weekend when one of them came across a used syringe at the south Dublin beauty spot.
The dirty needle was discovered amongst a pile of rubbish at the edge of the nature reserve, but fortunately, the eagle-eyed volunteer saw the potentially disease-carrying instrument before reaching down to pick it up.
Perhaps because addicts consider parkland or beaches, even in some cases in the middle of a popular seaside resort, as a ‘safe’ place to inject, discarded needles are all too common. The great danger, of uncapped needles settling into long grass or soft sand sticking those innocently walking barefoot or in thin-soled shoe is ever present.
Perhaps sand shoes should be a routine, and local authorities, when aware of drug abuse and sharps litter, should post appropriate warnings for visitors to parkland, beaches or other open spaces. However, the chance of that is minimal as the impact on tourism would surely be an overriding consideration.
Likewise, where clean-up is left to the sterling efforts of volunteers, perhaps the local authorities will chip in with some support, at least proving waste sacks, litter pickers, sharps bins, sharps safety gloves, and free disposal option for all retrieved wastes. Some support in the way of safety and segregation/packaging briefing from the environment team would also be appropriate.