By BBC News
An anonymous drug testing trial will take place at the Electric Picnic music festival in the Republic of Ireland.Festival goers will be encouraged to place drugs into "surrender bins" at the County Laois venue so they can be tested for potency and contamination. Health officials will warn the public if they detect particularly dangerous drugs in circulation at the gig.
They stressed that drugs remain illegal but said they were taking a "pragmatic" approach to protect public safety. The testing scheme, run through the Health Service Executive (HSE), is part of the Irish government's Safer Nightlight campaign.
The HSE's initiative has the support of An Garda Síochána (Irish police service). But are the authorities not concerned that such an approach may appear to normalise or condone drug taking? "Our message is really, really clear that it's safer not to take drugs at all. Drugs remain illegal and that's the Guards' position as well so if you're caught in possession of drugs at a festival by An Garda Síochána you will face prosecution," Prof Keenan said. "But with all of that going on, we know that people still do take drugs at festivals... we're pragmatic enough to understand that it does happen and like the Guards we're interested in public safety and this is an initiative which we think will contribute to the health and safety of attendees."