Earlier this year, the Irish Press Ombudsman upheld a complaint from Harm Reduction International, the Irish Needle Exchange Forum and the CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign against a column in the Irish Independent newspaper that described drug users as “vermin” and “feral, worthless scumbags”. The complaint was supported by approximately thirty Irish drugs services and professionals. We believe this to be the first time that drug users have been identified by a media watchdog as an identifiable group, entitled to protections against hate-type speech in the press, that that this decision is therefore of international significance.
To follow up on this successful action, Harm Reduction International and the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy is co-sponsoring a panel discussion of journalists on November 3rd in Dublin at 6pm that will explore the challenges of media reporting on drug use issues, and the need for constructive press coverage that informs sensible public policy and discourse rather than promoting stigmatising stereotypes. The event will be held as part of the Irish national drugs conference, being held in Dublin that week.
Speakers will include:
- Maureen Brosnahan, a veteran national reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- Kitty Holland of The Irish Times
- Keelin Shanley of RTE television and radio
- Erin O’Mara, editor of Black Poppy, a UK-based health and lifestyle magazine produced by and for people who use drugs
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- Harm Reduction International (HRI)