SUPERVISED injecting centres must be “properly organised” if they are to be effective, according to some city centre locals.
Having been approved at Cabinet level, the proposed facilities are due to open in Dublin as early as this autumn.
While the location of the centres has not yet been confirmed, the Department of Health told The Gazette that a pilot facility is definitely planned for the city centre.
Some locals are worried about this facility being “dumped” in the city centre, on top of the already extensive drug and homeless services in the area.
Locals say that Merchant’s Quay Ireland (MQI) needle exchange programme has been “catastrophic” for the area as used drug paraphernalia lines the streets, and addicts shooting up in broad daylight is a common occurrence in the vicinity of MQI.
One local business owner told The Gazette that he doesn’t feel good about having another drug service located close to his business, which has suffered as a result of being located close to MQI.
He said: “The building isn’t big enough for the people that use it now, so if they have drug users who want to use drugs in there, they all won’t fit in and they’ll end up shooting up on the street. It could be a disaster.”
The injecting centres will be staffed by medical professionals who will supervise drug users and ensure that they do not overdose. The drug users will have access to sterile needles to inject the drugs they bring with them.
Introduced by Minister of State for Drugs, Catherine Byrne (FG), the legislation surrounding the centres would effectively see heroin legalised inside the facility, but it would still be illegal to sell or supply drugs inside or outside the facility.
The local business owner said that his customers always question the safety of his business due to its close proximity to MQI and the anti-social behaviour that occurs as a result.
“Customers always ask if they should be worried, it’s always a topic that comes up. It’s never positive for business – it’s always bad.”
While he says he supports the idea of injection centres in theory, he believes it “depends on where they are located”.
“The city centre is not suitable for them – are the users going to take their drugs, then go back out on to the street, high?
“That doesn’t make sense but I do understand the need to provide a safe environment for drug users – that’s grand, but it’s like they’re promoting taking illegal drugs.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Health told The Gazette that “consultation” will be a key part of the process in deciding the locations.
The spokesperson added: “The HSE have established a working group to gather data, consider possible options and to undertake public consultation before any decision is made.
“In line with what’s been done in other countries, the location will be carefully selected to address, most effectively, the requirements and concerns of the service users and the wider community.”
Cllr Nial Ring (Ind) has condemned the decision to “dump” the centres in the city centre.
He said: “The news that Minister Byrne’s pet project of having drug injecting rooms right in the heart of Dublin’s business, shopping and tourism district … has shown a breathtaking disregard for the wellbeing of the city centre economy and its development.”