Wednesday 21 August 2019

Merchants Quay Ireland to appeal decision over supervised injection facility

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
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

MERCHANTS Quay Ireland has confirmed that they will appeal a decision over a supervised injection centre.

The organisation, which provides assistance to drug addicts, was refused planning permission for the facility last month.

They said this afternoon that they plan to appeal this as they feel the facility could save lives.

A spokesman said in a statement: "Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) has decided to lodge an appeal with An Bord Pleanála regarding planning permission for a Medically Supervised Injecting Facility

"Extensive international evidence clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of injecting facilities. These facilities have been repeatedly shown to support people in addiction and on into treatment, as well as reduce public injecting and drug-related litter.

"Two out of every three injecting deaths in Ireland occur in Dublin city. These fatalities are more than statistics - they are the tragic loss of someone’s brother, mother, neighbour or friend. We have a duty as a society to protect our most marginalised and vulnerable citizens.

"The development of this service is part of the Programme for Government and is in the National Drugs & Alcohol Strategy - Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery.

"We acknowledge the support given by Minister Catherine Byrne to MQI in developing the facility, and we will continue to engage with the Department of Health, HSE, and Dublin City Council to progress the appeal."

The proposed facility would be the first of its kind in Ireland and is supported by the Government.

Dublin City Council said they received around 100 objections to the centre from local residents, businesses and a school were lodged to the council when the planning application was made.

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.

Earlier this week 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.

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