Friday 23 August 2019

Merchants Quay drug facility mulls appeal after council blocks injection centre plans

Broad daylight: A woman and two men inject on a laneway off Dublin's Abbey Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Broad daylight: A woman and two men inject on a laneway off Dublin's Abbey Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The Merchants Quay facility that provides assistance to drug addicts is mulling an appeal over a supervised injection centre.

Yesterday, the Irish Independent highlighted how city addicts continue to inject in laneways and public parks in the absence of a designated facility for them.

They often discard their used syringes and other equipment in places where they pose a danger to the public and the clean-up teams who have to collect and dispose of them.

Merchants Quay was last month refused permission for the first such facility in the country, but can make representations to An Bord Pleanála.

It will decide over the coming days if it will appeal the decision by Dublin City Council.

The plan to open such a centre has Government backing, but around 100 objections from local residents, businesses and a school were lodged to the council when the planning application was made. People who lodged objections have defended their decision.

In its submission to Dublin City Council, the owners of the popular O'Shea's Merchant bar on Bridge Street, close to Merchants Quay, said their "daily lives are tormented by drug users coming into our bar and restaurant to inject".

"Our staff spend endless amounts of time asking them to leave and cleaning up after them. Our staff fear cleaning toilets as they are afraid they will stand on used needles."

O'Shea's general manager Nick Kirwan said having such a facility would worsen the problem rather than resolve it.

"In the same way that you see people throwing away their rubbish on a beach even when there is a bin there, you will still have the needles discarded in public," he said.

"The current situation is not good, but there is no quick fix for it. I think the facility would encourage the use of narcotics and make things worse, not better," Mr Kirwan added.

In his submission to the council objecting to the centre, Brian McDevitt, from the Thomas Street Pharmacy, said "dumping the problem on Dublin 8 is irresponsible and unacceptable".

Local councillor Mannix Flynn has called for resources to be put into detoxification and rehabilitation instead of an injection facility.

But Merchants Quay has said the medically supervised injection centre would give addicts a safe place to inject and minimise the risk of overdosing in a laneway out of view, and would minimise the number of syringes being discarded in public places.

"People are objecting on the claim that an injection centre would attract drug users and drug pushers to the area. But they are already here. They are the ones who are down laneways and in parks," said Christine Leddy, community engagement team leader at Merchants Quay.

Irish Independent

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