Merchant's Quay Ireland (MQI) has submitted additional information to Dublin City Council as part of its application to open Ireland's first facility for injecting drugs under medical supervision.
The proposed facility was initially expected to open by the end of 2017 but was delayed after the council sought further detail on the proposed centre.
Merchant’s Quay, a voluntary organisation that helps people with addiction and accommodation issues, said it was keen to see the supervised injecting facility up and running as soon as possible “as the number of drug-related deaths is too high for the service to be delayed further”.
Ireland has the fourth-highest level of drug-related deaths in Europe, with 700 deaths in 2016, about half of which were caused by overdoses, an MQI spokesman said.
Last February, the Health Service Executive said MQI was the preferred bidder to operate the facility. Based on a survey of users of the needle exchange already provided by MQI, it is envisaged that 50 to 60 people a day could use it.
The sale and supply of illegal drugs will remain illegal inside and outside the facility.
The council has yet to make a decision on the application.
The HSE said last year that, based on evidence from other countries, injection facilities did not increase drug use, drug dealing or crime in the areas in which they are located.
The group has now submitted its updated planning application for the renovation of its Riverbank centre on Merchant’s Quay which includes the provision of a medically-supervised injecting facility at basement level, a new, off-street waiting area, a reconfigured service yard and a new, single-story enclosed ramp entrance. The application also includes proof of permission from the Franciscan Province of Ireland for the renovation of the building and a commitment from planning and development consultants Brock McClure, who will carry out the work.
The Riverbank building was built in the 1960s as a theatre before being turned into a courtroom facility in 1996 for the Children’s Court. In 2012 the centre was refurbished as a homeless and drugs service facility.
MQI has also drawn up a community engagement plan which proposes to strengthen relationships between the centre and local community through “clear and honest communication” and proactively engage with the immediate community to ensure local people understand how the facility works.
The submission also includes the HSE invitation to tender for the medically-supervised injecting facility which states the centre will initially run as a pilot project for 18 months with an evaluation after six months and the option of extending the contract to three years.