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'Devastating news': Planning permission given to supervised injection centre is deemed invalid

It had been submitted that the proposed development would cause a de facto “drugs marketplace”.

Merchants Quay Ireland.
Merchants Quay Ireland.
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

PLANNING PERMISSION GIVEN to set up the nation’s first supervised injection facility has been deemed invalid by An Bord Pleanála. 

Attempts to construct the centre have been in the works for years but had been blighted by planning permission problems sparked by concerns from locals. 

In 2019, temporary permission was granted to set up the facility. The permission allowed the premises occupied by Dublin homelessness charity Merchants Quay Ireland to be used for the purposes of a medically supervised injection facility for a period of three years.

This would allow drug addicts to inject themselves in a safe environment. Users would be given clean needles and their drug waste would be disposed of in the centre. Anyone who overdosed would receive immediate care and those wishing to try to get off heroin or other drugs would be given help to do so. 

However, St Audoen’s National School, located close to the proposed centre, brought judicial review proceedings to the High Court.

The board of management of the primary school submitted a detailed objection to the proposed development, citing, in particular, the adverse consequences which it would have on the pupils and staff at the school.

It had been submitted that the proposed development would cause a de facto “drugs marketplace” to be created in the area.

Nullifying the planning permission given in 2019, Mr Justice Garrett Simons said An Bord Pleanála did not properly address the school board’s concerns.

He said: “The failure to explain the reasons for which they (the submissions from the school) were not accepted represents a breach of the statutory requirement to state the main reasons and considerations for the decision. This breach is enough, on its own, to invalidate the planning permission.”

In a statement this morning, Merchants Quay Ireland said: “MQI, together with our legal team, will consider this judgement. We remain committed to the opening of a Mandatory Supervised Injection Facility as part of a health led approach to addiction. There is a clear need for this facility. These services save lives.”

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Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a former drugs minister, described the decision as “devastating”.

He said: “This is devastating news. My understanding is that the Department have made no alternative plans, such as a mobile clinic, in the event of such a ruling.

“Never ceases to depress me what little value is placed on the lives that are lost annually through overdose.”

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