A planning application for Ireland’s first drug injection centre will be made before the end of the month, according to Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI). The charity, which provides vital support to people who are homeless, hungry and use drugs, won the tender 6 months ago to operate the facility in a basement area of its premises on Merchant’s Quay, Dublin.
Outgoing CEO Tony Geoghegan said the application had been delayed by building design issues but the application will now be lodged before October.
Speaking at the launch of MQI’s Annual Review, Mr Geoghegan said the organisation helped 10,417 people with addiction, homeless and mental health issues last year. Its Night Cafe provided mats 19,368 times to nearly 2000 rough sleepers, and there was also detox and rehab treatment for 170 individuals.
Drug testing Dublin
Mr Geoghegan – who is stepping down after more than 30 years working in drug treatment – says he is “optimistic” that drug addiction in Dublin will be reduced. He believes that the economic recovery and better treatment services including the drug injection room will help.
Since the early 1990s, the numbers on methadone have increased from around 1000 to around 10,000 today.
Paula Byrne, who is taking over as CEO, is not as positive, stating: “Ireland is in the midst of a deepening social crisis, in housing, in homelessness, and in addiction”.
Ms Byrne said MQI had expanded services throughout Ireland. Its Annual Review shows more than 13,301 ‘supportive interventions’ were provided, helping people to access healthcare, accommodation, drug treatment, training and welfare supports. More than 2500 people attended the health promotion unit regarding their drug use.
“Times are changing at Merchants Quay Ireland but our mission will remain the same: to care for people in addiction and homelessness with understanding, compassion and dignity”, she said.