'This will save lives': Dublin's Merchant's Quay injecting centre to cater for 100 drug-users a day

"(This) will allow us to reach people who are currently isolated and vulnerable, offering them vital healthcare and treatment options."

'This will save lives': Dublin's Merchant's Quay injecting centre to cater for 100 drug-users a day

Merchant's Quay Ireland said this afternoon that it had permission from the planning appeals tribunal to set up the centre at River House in Dublin 8.

The facility will have seven injecting booths and an aftercare area, and is expected to cater for up to 100 drug-users per day. It is being set up as an 18-month pilot project.

The terms of the permission require Merchant's Quay to move its existing night cafe for the homeless out of the centre. The charity will have to apply for permission again in three years' time if it wants to keep it open.

New laws passed in February 2017 allowed users be exempted from charges of posession of illegal drugs in a designated injection centre.

Merchant's Quay Ireland moved to set up the first such injection clinic in the country, but was blocked by city planners in July amid concerns from local residents and businesses.

In a decision dated yesterday and released today, An Bórd Pleanála's overturned the City Council.

Local TD and Minister of State with responsibility for drugs policy Catherine Byrne welcomed the move, saying it wasbadly needed to prevent rising numbers of overdose deaths.

"We need to bering down those numbers and bring people into a medically supervised service where if they get into difficulty when they're injecting, they can be helped," she said.

"It's an opportunity to run a pilot scheme for 18 months for those people who are very vulnerable (and) are dying on our streets." She said more than 370 people had died injecting in the last number of years.

Minister Byrne says she had heard the concerns of locals and was ready to work with them.

"I know people are concerned down there, and have real concerns around the school and community...We have to work with people," she said.

In a statement, Merchants Quay Ireland welcomed the decision and said: "The Medically Supervised Injecting Facility (MSIF) at our Riverbank Centre on Merchant’s Quay will allow us to reach people who are currently isolated and vulnerable, offering them vital healthcare and treatment options.

"With one death every day in Ireland from a drug overdose, this facility will save lives.

"We understand that there are concerns from members of the local community, and we will work closely with them and all stakeholders as the project progresses to ensure that this facility benefits everyone.

"MQI would also like to place on record our thanks to the Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister Catherine Byrne and their officials for their support for this 18-month pilot."

EARLIER: Dublin's Merchants Quay gets go-ahead for Ireland's first supervised injection facility

Merchants Quay Ireland has been granted planning permission for Ireland's first supervised drug injection centre.

An Bórd Pleanála has overruled Dublin City Council planners to allow the facility in the south inner city. The planning appeals body said the facility would not "adversely impact" the residential character of the Merchant's Quay area.

MQI offices are located along Merchants Quay, near the landmark Civic Offices (the headquarters of DCC), within the south west inner city in Dublin 8.

The charity welcomed the decision, saying it would allow "isolated and vulnerable " drug users to access vital healthcare.

In its original application, MQI said the anticipated number of clients was between 60 and 100 and that the majority of people would be “existing clients”. The service would operate for 9.5 hours per day.

Last July, Dublin City Council refused the charity's application for the pilot medically supervised injecting facility (MSIF). DCC planners said the proposed site, in the basement of the existing offices of Merchants Quay Ireland, was located on a “primary tourist route” within the city’s historic core and that the council’s City Development Plan had to be considered.

An Bórd Pleanála has now approved the facility, however.

Minister for Health Simon Harris hailed An Bord Pleanála's decision as excellent news which allows the country to proceed with its first supervised injection facility. He said it was time to get serious about tackling addiction issues in Ireland, and to recognise that addiction is an illness.

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