DUBLIN City Council (DCC) has refused planning permission for Ireland’s first ever supervised injection rooms for drug users.

Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) had applied to run the facility from its building in Dublin city centre.

However, DCC turned down the proposal over concerns it would have a negative impact on tourism in the area.

Another reason given by planners to block the facility was due to an “over-concentration of social support services in the area”.

MQI says the decision will put “vulnerable lives at greater risk”.

The proposed facility would have had seven booths and been able to cater for up to 100 users per day.

The decision can be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

MQI’s chief executive, Paula Byrne, said: “This decision by DCC is deeply disappointing.

“With one person a day in Ireland dying of a drug overdose, it will put vulnerable lives at greater risk.

“In 2016, 736 people in Ireland died from drug-related causes – the fourth-highest rate in Europe – and every indicator suggests that this number is increasing.

“International evidence clearly demonstrates that supervised injecting facilities reduce public injecting, reduce risk of disease transmission, and most importantly, save lives.

“We will review DCC’s decision and consider our next steps. In the meantime, we will continue to advocate for people in addiction, to ensure that they receive the care they deserve.”

Cllr Cieran Perry (Ind) welcomed DCC’s decision to refuse planning permission
He said: “I’m delighted with the decision to refuse planning permission.

“To propose spending €3 million on an injection centre to maintain people in addiction, rather than properly funding drug rehabilitation as the only effective method of tackling addiction, is scandalous.”

Cllr Perry says that there is no evidence-based research to prove injection centres work and that referrals to rehab or detox are disgracefully low.

He said: “The proposal for an injection centre is a cynical attempt to hide the public face of drug abuse in Dublin, instead of actually tackling the problem.

“A facility such as this also normalises and encourages drug use”.

Cllr Perry called the injection centre a class issue, saying: “a lifetime of methadone maintenance, an encouragement to continue to use heroin, but out of public sight, and [fostering] a tolerance of a life lived through addiction appears to be acceptable when it comes to working class drug addicts”.