Gig goers urged to use welfare services if they feel unwell over drugs

Ana Liffey Drug Project says support centres are on site to try to save people’s lives

Dawn Russell said many drugs consumed at festivals are not pharmaceutical quality and contain bulking agents.

Dawn Russell said many drugs consumed at festivals are not pharmaceutical quality and contain bulking agents.

 

The head of services at the Ana Liffey Drug Project has called on young people attending festivals and concerts to avail of welfare services if they are feeling unwell after taking drugs.

Dawn Russell told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the welfare tents they run at festivals are there to offer assistance, “not to judge”.

Her comments come following the death of 19-year-old Jack Downey who was hospitalised over the weekend after taking a substance at a Cork music festival. He was believed to have ingested a substance while attending the Indiependence music festival at Mitchelstown in Co Cork.

“People are taking drugs at festivals and they don’t know what’s in the pills and powders.”

Ms Russell explained that the drugs being sold at festivals are not pharmaceutical quality with many containing ‘bulking’ agents and can be “highly potent”.

The gardaí­ do what they can to control the supply of drugs at festivals, she said. “They can’t keep all the drugs out, they can’t search everyone.

“There are no safe doses, this is even more the case at festivals where there is no family or support around. It’s important to have medics on site.”

Ms Russell said that the first priority of volunteers at medical support centres at festivals is the health and safety of young people. “They are there to protect your life, not get you arrested.

“Our job is to engage with people who have taken drugs or are considering taking drugs.”

Taking drugs at festivals is a reality, she added and it is important that it is managed properly behind the scenes.