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Dublin Simon Community

Local residents lodge appeal against recovery centre for homeless drug addicts in Dublin city

The recovery centre was given planning permission earlier this month.

A DUBLIN INNER city primary school and local residents have put the brakes on the Dublin Simon Community pressing ahead with its plan for a 70-bed recovery centre for homeless drug addicts and alcoholics at Usher’s Island.

This follows St Audoen’s National School and local residents lodging appeals to An Bord Pleanála against last month’s Dublin City Council decision to give the plan the go-ahead.

On behalf of the Board of Management of the school, school principal Eilish Meagher has argued in its appeal to the board that “the area is over-saturated with community facilities and in particular detox and rehabilitation centres”.

She said that the school “wanted to make clear that we admire the Simon Community and are generally supportive of its efforts and the needs for said efforts in society”.

Dublin Simon already operates a specialist medical residential treatment and recovery centre at the site including a 39 bed unit and the school states that the new plan will result in the new centre’s intake will be three times its current number.

The Dublin Simon plan involves the demolition of the 39-bed unit and replacing it with the 70-bed recovery centre but Meagher has told the appeals board that while recreational facilities for local people are lacking in the area, treatment facilities “are balanced in the other direction”.

Over emphasis

In the appeal, Ms Meagher states there is an over emphasis on large crises services in Dublin 8 at the expense of a family-friendly community.

Meagher states:

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.

She goes on to state:

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.

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

The appeal states that “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”.

Ms Meagher claims that the city council planner in the case didn’t give the objectors’ concerns the detailed consideration they warranted.

Other appeals

Youth and community worker, Elizabeth O’Connor from Oliver Bond House is another to appeal along with Mary Keating and others.

In her objection, Ms O’Connor states:

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 states that she and others have dedicated their lives to the care of vulnerable people grappling with the many problems which afflict economically deprived communities.

In her objection, she says:

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.
A new generation of young people are growing up in an environment in which their locale is becoming little more than an ever extending treatment and accommodation centre for the wider city’s vulnerable.

She added that “our children have the same entitlement to a happy, safe, secure childhood and environment as other and more affluent areas of the city”.

Simon response

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 state:

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.

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

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

A decision is due on the appeal in late December.

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

Read: There are 27 empty houses for every one person in emergency accommodation

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