Words: Eva O’Beirne
The centre will be located in Merchants Quay Ireland for an initial period of 18 months.
Ireland’s first medically supervised drug injection facility has been given the green light.
A Medically Supervised Injecting Facility (MSIF) is a safe, healthcare environment where people can inject drugs, obtained elsewhere, under the supervision of trained health professionals.
They offer a compassionate, person-centred service which reduces the harms associated with injecting drug use and can help people access appropriate services. These services can help health service staff to reach and support vulnerable and marginalised people who often do not, cannot or no longer engage with existing health services.
The facility will have seven injecting booths, along with staff space and an after-care area, and will be integrated with the other services currently provided by Merchants Quay Ireland.
A review will be undertaken after 18 months of activity to assess the centre’s impact on the local area, school, residents, economy and tourism.
The facility will operate three sessions by day, Monday to Friday, and two sessions on Saturdays and Sundays.
A survey has predicted that about 60 to 100 people would use the injection facility per day, with the busiest times expected between 20:00 and 09:00.
There will be a maximum 20-minute booth stay for users, providing at least 21 injections per hour.
Plans to set up the unit were formally agreed upon in December 2015 by the government, with legislation published in February 2017 and enacted in April 2018. The injecting facility was initially refused planning permission by Dublin City Council in July 2019, but granted permission by An Bord Pleanála that December, following a report by its inspector.
After a local school took a judicial review, the High Court quashed the planning board’s decision in December 2021. The High Court sent it back to the board for reconsideration, strongly criticising it for failing to consider the impact on the local school.
To reflect these concerns, the operating hours of the facility will take school start and finish times into account, reducing the level of exposure for school children.
It is unclear when the facility will begin operations.
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