Nightclub revellers and staff have been urged to be vigilant as venues reopen this weekend amid a number of reports of drink spiking.
A number of Munster Technological University (MTU) students in Co Kerry were reportedly spiked during freshers’ week last week, while police in the North are appealing for information about a similar spate of incidents in Derry in recent days.
Síona Cahill, former president of the Union of Students in Ireland and a board member for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said drink spiking was nothing new but there had been “some level of growth in it” in recent years.
“Ahead of the weekend, people are absolutely delighted, so excited to get back on to the dance floor, but unfortunately there are a limited number of people who want to take advantage of that,” she warned.
“Obviously there should be a zero tolerance attitude to any kind of behaviour like that in our nightclubs, in our friend groups or anywhere else.”
Ms Cahill said “a complicating factor” would be a generation of 18- and 19-year-olds going to nightclubs this weekend who have no experience of what they are like.
“It is important that we take that into account,” she said.
“The way people behave in a nightclub is different.”
While reported incidents of spiking of drinks is “limited” it is “something that we need to be vigilant about, both as young people and people going out for a dance this weekend but also for the staff who are managing those areas,” she added.
Ms Cahill also cautioned that it can happen at private parties and other unregulated spaces.
“It is not just a women’s issue, quite frankly, it’s an everyone issue,” she told RTÉ Radio One.
“It is really important straight off the bat that we don’t say to women ‘don’t get spiked on a night out’.
“It is not the women’s responsibility not to get spiked, there is very clearly a broader society conversation around consent and longer term prevention and around matters like this, be it in nightclubs or anywhere else.”
Organisations like the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre are “trying to open up the conversation with people of all genders and all ages on language of consent and how we engage with each other on a night out,” she said.