A DUBLIN City councillor has slammed the HSE’s decision to proceed with opening a supervised injection centre within the city.
Last Friday, it was announced that the Health Service Executive had awarded the contract to run Ireland’s first supervised drug injection centre (SIF) to voluntary organisation, Merchants Quay Ireland.
Independent Councillor Cieran Perry, who has been an anti-drug campaigner for over 20 years, says that there is ‘no proven’ success rate for supervised injection centres.
“This is the wrong decision. There is no evidence-based research that supervised injection centres work, and I believe they normalise drug use at a time when we should be encouraging detox and rehab,” Cllr Perry said.
In a supervised injection centre, there will be access to emergency care in the event of an overdose, as well as clean, sterile injecting equipment. Research on SIF’s in other countries have shown that they reduce the spread of disease and deaths from drug use, as well as reduce ‘drug-related’ litter on streets.
In a statement, the HSE said that centres do not increase drug use or drug dealing, based on evidence from other countries.
“They offer a compassionate, person-centered service which reduces the harms associated with injecting drug use and can help people access appropriate services,” the HSE’s website says.
The CEO of MQI, Tony Geoghegan, said that the introduction of a supervised injection centre is ‘putting Ireland’s most vulnerable’ first.
“We know that engagement with drug treatment works, however successful treatment and rehabilitation is only possible if someone is still alive. This opening of a SIF shows that as a society we are putting some of Ireland’s most vulnerable people first and providing a much-needed service,” Geoghegan said.
Cllr Perry said it will be difficult for An Garda Siochana to police drug use, if it is permitted in a certain area.
“Opening such a facility will lead to legalisation of heroin by proxy in my opinion. If pocession of heroin is allowable in certain areas, how do we expect the Garda to police such a situation?
“Those supporting the supervised injection centres from a harm reduction prospective are actually helping to consign addicts to a life of addiction,” Cllr Perry said.
It is expected that MQI will have the licence for the centre for 18 months. Initially, the HSE said that the pilot project would be open by late 2017, but it is now believed that there may be some delay in it’s opening as Dublin City Council have ruled that the centre cannot go ahead without planning permission.
There are over 100 similar centres globally, with many of them located in Europe.