Ireland’s Electric Picnic Festival made history over the weekend as it hosted the republic’s first ever drug testing pilot inspired by the likes of The Loop.
The pilot, set up by Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE), was the first back-of-house testing service of its kind and marked a milestone for harm reduction at events in Ireland.
Electric Picnic went ahead over the weekend from September 1 - 4 at Laois’ Stradbally Hall. The annual event this year brought in headliners including Tame Impala, Arctic Monkeys, and Megan Thee Stallion.
During the event, HSE warned of high-strength pills circulating the festival in the shape of a skull, estimating that these pills are around “two times the average adult dose”.
We're issuing caution from #EP2022— HSE Drugs.ie (@drugsdotie) September 2, 2022
The HSE lab have identified a Mybrand purple skull pill which is approx two times the average adult dose
Please exercise caution, chat with our teams and get #HarmReduction on our site @ https://t.co/CAsIMrfnqO #ReduceTheHarms#IfYoGoGoSlow pic.twitter.com/PfccvTJJKk
The pilot scheme marks the first time that drugs have been tested outside of an official lab in Ireland, which was also backed by police. The An Garda Síochána (gardaí) police force said that they would not be patrolling the HSE drug testing tent or amnesty bins during the festival.
The gardaí said in a statement that it would not “routinely patrol any HSE-designated medical facility”, but "assist in such environments on request of HSE staff.”
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Parliamentary member of Ireland's Green Party, Neasa Hourigan, told Resident Advisor that the tone and content of the gardaí’s statement could be concerning, stating: “Ultimately this pilot is government policy and it must be allowed to operate without impediment.”
“As society has reopened post-Covid, we are seeing new and more potent versions of illegal drugs being made available. It's absolutely vital we try our best to keep people safe and protected in environments where we know they may be more vulnerable—that is what this pilot seeks to do. I hope the gardaí take that intention on board and work with us to achieve it,” she said.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter