Senior gardaí moved last night to reassure the public that drug squad officers have been active for some time in the area around the North Presentation primary school on the city’s northside where the incident occurred on Wednesday.
But anxious parents, who took it upon themselves to monitor activity in the laneways around the school yesterday morning, claimed they witnessed up to 30 drug deals.
Supt Tom Myers said the jabbing was a serious incident and stressed that the Garda drug squad has been active in the area in recent weeks.
“We need credible evidence and I would encourage the public to come forward with information and appropriate action will be taken,” he said.
His comments came as gardaí, HSE, and city council officials met as part of the Cork Local Drugs Taskforce to discuss the situation.
Chief Supt Mick Finn said gardaí are taking the jabbing incident very seriously.
“It is a serious development. We are working with the HSE and Cork City Council to discuss what steps must be taken to tackle this issue before it escalates in to a more serious issue,” he said.
The five-year-old boy who was jabbed by the needle returned to school yesterday.
It is understood that he and his family are still waiting for the results of blood tests carried out at the Mercy University Hospital on Wednesday.
The needle had been discarded just minutes after the school caretaker had checked the yard for hazards and found it to be clear of danger.
The child, unaware of the danger, picked the needle up during playtime, and punctured the skin on one of his hands.
The school’s principal, Kathleen Haverty, said while parents reported seeing at least one person “shooting up” in the area before classes started on Wednesday, no member of staff has evidence of this.
But she said two unopened methadone kits were found in the yard before Christmas, and the matters were reported to gardaí. The school reported “anti-social activity” in the area to the gardaí in recent weeks and community gardaí had arranged for the installation of syringe bins in the area.
The Garda drug squad in Cork has a dedicated heroin unit which specifically targets the sale and supply of the drug in the region.
A Garda operation targeting heroin use in and around the North Main St area of the city in recent weeks may have caused “displacement” of the problem to the Gerald Griffin St area.
Recent figures from the Department of Justice show that there are approximately 682 gardaí assigned to the Cork City Garda Division, supported by 69 Garda reserves and 59 civilians.
But Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould called for more Garda resources and more foot patrols where open heroin abuse is on the rise.
“Garda resources are being concentrated in the city at weekends but this incident highlights the need for more day-time patrols in certain parts of the city,” he said.
“If the people responsible for discarding this needle by just throwing it over the wall of a school are found to be tenants of Cork City Council, they have to be evicted. The council has a responsibility to the community. And if they are renting privately, then their landlord must take responsibility and deal with the situation.”
The jabbing incident occurred on the same day that reports emerged about several heroin needles being found amongst bags of rubbish dumped near playing pitches at St Vincent’s GAA club.