Locals furious over plan to move drug addicts to new clinics in suburbs

Claire Murphy

DUN LAOGHAIRE businesses and locals are incensed at suggestions that Dublin's inner city drug users should be encouraged to travel out to the suburbs for treatment.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Gerry Breen is discussing the idea of relocating drug-maintenance clinics back out to the suburbs.

But local businesses said the move would further impact on the retail and tourist industry, which is crippled.

Gerry Breen said it appeared that Dun Laoghaire "didn't have a problem with the homeless".

But vice-chairman of the Dun Laoghaire Business Association, Dan McManus, said Dun Laoghaire has "an historic problem" with drug addicts in clinics and homelessness.

"If the town centre is asked to accommodate the drug clinics, it will be the kiss of death," he said.

"The city of Dublin has a hell of a lot more resources than we do."

"Not only addicts from the locality, but I have reason to believe that they are travelling from Wicklow for treatment too," he said.

The association is currently working closely with the local authority and the Simon Community and have been trying to develop a collective strategy to deal with homelessness and drug addiction.

And Mr McManus said Dun Laoghaire has been earmarked by the Harbour Company for marketing to the international cruise industry.


"It has gathered momentum and the council has pursued a return to the original purpose of the port - a port for Dublin," he said.

"But tourists will not come to the town if it is overrun by methadone clinics."

"We recognise the necessity to accommodate a lot of dysfunctional members of society," he added, but went on: "If you try to bring in more, you might as well just shut down the town centre and there will be no commerce done here. It's completely misplaced."

School principal and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Councillor Mary Mitchell-O'Connor said that the methadone clinic is already cause for concern for parents and residents in the area.

"I am worried about who the children could be hanging around with in the area," she said.

"Very few of these children's parents would shop in Dun Laoghaire, they don't want the children to be in the town."

The idea of mobile clinic methadone treatment centres, such as those used in other European cities, is welcomed by businesses and locals in the Dun Laoghaire area.

"There is the argument that this would cost money, but as it is, it is costing money to businesses in the area," Cllr Mitchell-O'Connor noted.

"There have been about 68 shops in the town closed down - it has been one after another falling into disarray."

Opposing any move, Cllr Mitchell-O'Connor said: "I'm very understanding of the needs of a methadone clinic but it is simply affecting businesses in the area."