Minister Harris supports call for injection centre in city

by Rachel Darcy

There has been an increase in demand for the services of Merchant’s Quay Ireland, the charity have revealed in the launch of their 2018 report.

The group say that the level of people looking for their services has increased by a third, and that they worry homelessness and addiction are being increasingly seen as ‘normal’ on Irish streets.

Merchant’s Quay Ireland also said that Ireland has the fourth-highest number of drug-related deaths in Europe.

The group are currently appealing a decision by Dublin City Council to turn down a planning permission for a medically supervised injection centre on the south quays of the city.

Permission for the proposed centre was turned down by DCC in July, with the council saying the proposed centre would be bad for tourism, and for the local area as a whole.

At the launch of the report on October 24, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that he supports MQI in continuing to appeal the decision made by DCC.

In a speech, Minister Harris said: “People are dying on our streets, and we got to face up to it. It is working in other countries. So we’re going to fight this together. We are not going to shirk our responsibilities and we are going to get this supervised injection facility open.

“The facility will bring drug-injecting into a medically controlled and supervised setting, with health and other benefits for vulnerable individuals. It will also reduce the negative impact of public injecting and drug-related litter on local communities and businesses.”

In the CEO’s introduction to the 2018 report, CEO of Merchant’s Quay Ireland Paula Byrne said that there is a ‘chronic shortage’ of spaces at rehabilitation and detox centres in Ireland, contributing to ‘preventable deaths’.

Byrne wrote: “If much of the suffering associated with homelessness is hidden, so too is the suffering stemming from addiction. The latest Health Research Board report from 2016 shows that 736 lives were lost to drugs. These are preventable deaths.

“This facility will work to save lives and link people in with appropriate treatment services. It is clear that there is a chronic shortage of spaces in detox and rehabilitation centres across Ireland. At MQI 169 people were admitted to our rehab and detox facilities in 2018.”

To read the 2018 report, visit MQI’s website here.

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