A Palmerstown councillor is calling for stricter laws surrounding the accessibility of nitrous oxide canisters, or ‘silver bullets’, as their use as a recreational drug continues to be “widespread.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Derren Ó Brádaigh said: “The prevalence of these cannisters left strewn around our streets on a regular basis has become an all-too-common sight.
“Whilst I understand many have spoken out on this already, including my own colleague Mark Ward TD, the increased misuse of nitrous oxide as an inhalant, appears to have re-emerged to the same widespread scale as we were witnessing at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year.
“Whilst it was welcome news that the HSE had included information about the misuse of nitrous oxide on Drugs.ie, this does not go far enough to tackle the ongoing problem.
“It would seem to me that the current upsurge once again in the misuse of these ‘silver bullets’ can be timed with the recent lockdown period.
“I appreciate that this may be coincidental, however I feel that there is strong enough evidence to warrant closer scrutiny,” he said.
Ó Brádaigh said that nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is considered a “gateway drug,” and can be “purchased with relative ease.”
“Risks associated with the inhalation of this gas are dangerous and can cause a drop in oxygen levels increasing heart rate.
“People with heart, blood pressure or mental health concerns may be at even greater risk,” he said.
“Only last week, I contacted the council highlighting locations of discarded cannisters and requesting the cleansing of certain streets/ areas on behalf of residents specifically in this regard.
“The congregation of groups in the course of misusing this product and the general littering, noise and anti-social behaviour that follows is extremely intimidating for local residents.
“I have written to local Garda representatives for the area expressing my willingness to work as part of a joint effort in addressing some of the more challenging issues within our community.
“I was very pleased to receive a prompt and positive response.
“This followed my attendance at the local policing forum that organise from and on behalf of the community.”
Ó Brádaigh said that a collaborative between the local community and Gardai is needed if “we are ever to get a handle on drug and substance abuse and meaningfully address increasing anti-social problems.”