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Primary school fails in bid to have planned recovery centre for homeless addicts moved

The 70-bed centre on the south quays would replace an existing 39-bed unit.

Image: File image - Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A DUBLIN INNER city primary school and local residents have failed in their efforts in preventing the Dublin Simon Community securing planning permission for a 70-bed recovery centre for homeless people with drug and alcohol addiction issues at Usher’s Island, on the south quays.

The principal and board of management of St Audoen’s National School and local residents – including 267 people who signed a petition – were some of those to object to the plan.

Dublin Simon already operates a specialist medical residential treatment and recovery centre at the site including a 39-bed unit and the new plan represents a significant expansion on the services provided at the location. The 70-bed centre would replace the existing one.

Consultants for Dublin Simon, RPS, told the City Council that the plan allows for the provision of an increased number of recovery beds “enabling clients to further stabilise and enhance their ongoing recovery”.

They stated:

This will reduce relapse rates and costs for repeated admissions to detox units or general hospitals – as well as ultimately reducing anti-social or criminal behaviour related to alcohol and drug use.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith was one of a number of public representatives to offer support for the project.

However, in an objection lodged by on behalf of the board of St Audoen’s National School, principal Eilish Maher told Dublin City Council that the proposal is three times the size of what is already there.

Maher said:

Residential and business communities at Merchant’s Quay and Usher’s Island are already affected by large addiction services, which cause daily nuisance, anti social behaviour, intimidation and often threats of violence.
This area is being marginalised by the transient nature of said service users, many of whom are not from Dublin 8 – this is hampering the successful development of Dublin 8 and threatens sustainable communities and businesses.

She asked:

Why have one major Simon Community facility when the needs are city-wide? Why are such facilities not dispersed to include other areas where the issues are just as relevant?

She said there was “an over-emphasis of large crises services in Dublin at the expense of a family friendly community”.

The area, she argued, was “over-saturated with community facilities and in particular rehabilitation and detoxification centres”.

Maher pointed out that the proposal was in very close proximity to St Audoen’s National School “with the majority of our students living just metres away from this site”.

Increasing the volume of addition service users without prior consultation with relevant stakeholders is a breach of society’s child protection responsibilities and primary concerns.

Residents 

Chairman of the St Audoen’s Residents Association Martin Doyle also lodged an objection stating that the association was opposing the plan “as we feel we are already over-crowded with these problems”.

Youth and Community Worker Elizabeth O’Connor from Oliver Bond House lodged an objection accompanied by 267 signatures.

In the objection O’Connor stated:

My objection is not to the provision of services for people with alcohol and addiction problems but rather to the decision to locate those services in disproportionate numbers in one small area of the inner city.

O’Connor said that she and others had dedicated their lives to the care of vulnerable people grappling with the many problems which afflict economically deprived communities.

She said: “The decision to concentrate several facilities for vulnerable people from across the city in this one small quarter threatens to radically alter the character and sustainability of this community.”

Dublin City Council planners gave the plan the go-ahead after finding that the project is compatible with the zoning objectives of the site and would not be prejudicial to the residential or visual amenities of the area.

The Council planner stated that the submissions made by third parties were considered in reaching the decision to grant.

Objectors now have the option of appealing the Council decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Read: Census 2016: Nearly one in five homeless adults have a job >

Read: ‘A loss of dignity’: Homeless children are living on takeaways and dining on the floor >

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Gordon Deegan

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