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To coincide with our current production of HEROIN 2018, today we are launching a new campaign.

THE RADICAL SHIFT 2020 is a two year durational art campaign to

  1. bring about a seismic change in how we view drugs and drug users in Ireland by deepening our collective understanding of addiction and complicating the simple narratives spun to keep the status quo
  2. to change the legislative framework for how people who use drugs are treated by viewing drug addiction as a health issue and not a criminal justice issue.
  3. To honour those drug users who have been killed by inaction of successive Irish governments over the past 60 years. In our working class communities many men and women were killed by not receiving the proper medical care that we are now; we are missing a generation, who weren’t here to warn us when the target was drawn on the backs of our children. Every day, thousands of mothers and fathers in our communities struggle to keep their children alive. This is class genocide. An economic massacre. We want to make it visible.
  4. Literally meaning “who benefits?,” cui bono? is a rhetorical Latin legal phrase used to imply that whoever appears to have the most to gain from a crime is probably the culprit. We want to expose who is benefiting from Ireland’s approach to drugs and drug users.


In 2015, two people who were using drugs died everyday of drugs and drug related issues. That’s 695 people that year, 127 died from road traffic accidents. We never hear about a drug related death unless the person is famous.


Ireland has the 4th highest rate of drug related death in Europe.


Today in Ireland, when a person who is addicted to drugs asks for help, they are put on a long waiting list. If the drug user breaks the law, they are sent straight to prison, no waiting.


We have 30 detox beds available in Ireland. There are 10 087 people on a methadone prescription. Many more are buying it on the street. It’s incredibly difficult to access methadone. It’s physically very difficult to get off it. It gets into your bones. When a drug user goes to their doctor and asks for their dosage to be reduced, it is usually increased. This is a form of social control. It keeps the drug user where they want them. They can’t even go on holidays without permission of the clinic and a letter for customs as to why they are bringing methadone. People think it reduces crime because the drug user doesn’t need to rob to get a fix.


There are 18,988 people injecting heroin. That we know of.


Last year, there were 16, 119 drug law offenses recorded.


Prisons are not rehabilitation or detox centre’s and they are not equipped to deal with the complex issues that drug users present with. Prison Guards are given very little support in dealing with people who use drugs and are at risk of psychological harm.


72% of the prison population are imprisoned for drug related crimes. It cost €22,000 to incarcerate a prisoner per year.


So, we have the time, money and resources to incarcerate thousands of drug users a year, but we don’t value these human lives enough to invest the same cold hard cash into treatment services.

Why is that? We believe it is nothing but convenience. Politicians are told not to talk about drugs, governments are told to leave it alone to stay in power. There’s no votes in it, and you lose votes if you support drug users. It’s easier to do nothing.


Every heroin user I have ever spoken to has disclosed to me that they were abused. Most have experienced some kind of trauma, poverty, witnessing violence, growing up in a home with a parent or parents using drugs or alcoholic. Heroin users are just people, trying their best with the tools they have,  trying to cope with their pain.


Heroin is the strongest pain killer known to man.

We have a drug solution, not a drug problem.


I have met many of the first generation of heroin users in Ireland. They told me they were interned in Daingean and Letterfrack and abused by Catholic Priests.

These were innocent children in pain. When they came to us for help, we didn’t help them. They used drugs to manage that pain and then we punished them further for using drugs by demonizing and silencing them, instead of acknowledging that they were harmed.

The cycle has continued ever since.

A cycle of control and sedation.


People who use drugs need support around their trauma, medical care and to be supported to make their lives more bearable.

We are dealing with a social sickness not an individual one, because we as a society deny that this problem has anything got to do with us as much as the addict denies that they are addicts.

We currently lock them all up together, where we tell them that they are bad and need punishment and where they learn how to use more effectively to destroy themselves, how to steal more and how to take bigger risks.


They come out and they cost us more money, they rob from us, they affect us when we see them in the street because the problem is not being addressed.

We are allowing a whole group of people in our society to be treated as less than human.

We are talking imprisoned drug users who commit nonviolent petty crime.


Since 1971, we have been told “change can’t happen overnight” and that “it is being looked into”

We can’t listen to that anymore.

We can’t watch our children die anymore.

By 2020 – we demand change.


Here are some of the actions with make up our campaign: 

  1. Performances of the play

HEROIN 2018 –


Awareness, Empathy, Expression, Love  


We need to radically shift how we view drugs and drug users

HEROIN is the story you were never told about the republic that never happened, of the person you never saw, of what we built and then demolished. It’s the big one, the bad one, the one you never thought you’d try.

HEROIN is a radical staging of how we got here, and how much we care.  THEATREclub’s award winning show is an explosion of the social history of Heroin in Ireland over the last sixty years. First performed in 2010, the play has been been on hundreds of times since then, all over Europe. Crushingly as relevant as ever, Grace Dyas and Rachael Keogh (author of Dying to Survive) have come together to make a brand new production. We’re getting current. Again. We can’t fucking believe this is STILL going on.

Its no longer a play, now, it has to be a campaign.  

For sixty years, we’ve been going around in circles, letting people die.  When we said we needed help we were put on a waiting list. There’s still only 30 detox beds. When we done something wrong we were sent straight to prison. No waiting. It costs €22,000 a year to keep one drug user in prison.


This is an invitation to come together, see our play and talk about trying something different and maybe then, we can hear the birds singing for the first time.


  1. The Beautiful Souls List

As part of HEROIN 2018 we are compiling a list of people who have been killed as a result of a lack of treatment services.

The ones who believed that they deserved to live a life in darkness.

The ones who never knew that there was a way out.

The ones who cried out for helped but were never heard.  

We call them The Beautiful Soul’s.


If your loved one has died from a drug overdose, drug related suicide or gang violence and you believe  could have been prevented if they had greater access to treatment, please add their name to the list and we will honour them as part of the performance.


Add their name here


  1. Petition to the Irish Government to change our drug laws


  1. Providing space to the public to share and reflect after the play, to generate new ideas and new actions to further the goals of the campaign. 


Cast & Crew