File photo of needles and drug paraphernalia litter in Dublin. Photocall Irealnd
Merchants Quay

Dublin City Council refuses planning permission for Ireland's first injecting centre

The Council gave its decision yesterday.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has refused planning permission for Ireland’s first supervised injecting facility, saying that opening it would be bad for the area and bad for tourism in the capital. 

The Council gave its decision yesterday, almost a year after Merchant’s Quay Ireland first applied for permission to operate the facility out of its Riverbank Centre on Merchants Quay in Dublin’s south inner city, and almost four years after the centres were first proposed by government. 

Plans for the centre have been in the works for over three years. The 2016 Programme for Government contains a commitment to open such a facility. Laws were also passed in 2017 allowing for such centres to open and be run legally. 

A medically supervised injecting facility (MSIF) is a place where drug users can go to inject drugs under the supervision of medical professional. Over 120 such facilities exist in countries across the world, including Australia and Canada. 

Plans for the Dublin MSIF were met with fierce local resistance from local businesses, residents and the nearby St Audoen’s National School, all who objected strongly to its opening and made detailed third party submissions to council asking that it refuse permission.

Those in favour of it argue it would help save the lives of intravenous drug users, and help to reduce the anti-social behaviour associated with public injecting in the centre. 

Those against the facility argue that the centre would only increase anti-social behaviour in an area already overcome with drug use and dealing.  

The council decision 

In its decision, DCC said that having regard to an overconcentration of social support services in the D8 area and the lack of ” “robust policing plan and public realm plan” it is considered that the planned facility would:

  • Undermine the the existing local economy (in particular the growing tourism economy);
  •  have an injurious impact on the local residential community and its residential amenities;
  • and would hinder the future regeneration of the area

For that reason, the council said the development would go against the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 and would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Earlier this year, the council had come back to MQI asking that if provide additional information to satisfy planning requirements.

One piece of information the council required was a “detailed and targeted” policing plan developed in conjunction with gardaí for the MSIF as part of the overall operations plan.

However, gardaí wrote to MQI on 18 June stating that they would not create the policing plan for the facility. MQI submitted this letter to the council in June. 

In the letter, detective superintendent Brian Woods – of the Garda National Drugs and Crime Bureau – tells MQI CEO Paula Byrne that gardaí had sought legal advice and that “it is not deemed appropriate for An Garda Síochána to get involved in the planning application process”.  

‘Deeply disappointing’

Commenting on the council decision, MQI CEO Paula Byrne said the refusal would “put lives at risk”. 

“This decision by Dublin City Council is deeply disappointing. With one person a day in Ireland dying of a drug overdose, it will put vulnerable lives at greater risk,” she said. 

“In 2016, 736 people in Ireland died from drug-related causes, the fourth highest rate in Europe, and every indicator suggests that this number is increasing.

“International evidence clearly demonstrates that supervised injecting facilities reduce public injecting, reduce risk of disease transmission, and most importantly, save lives.

We will review Dublin City Council’s decision and consider our next steps. In the meantime, we will continue to advocate for people in addiction, to ensure that they receive the care they deserve.

We looked at this topic for our podcast The Explainer: Why haven’t any supervised drug injection centres opened in Ireland?

The Explainer / SoundCloud

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