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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021
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Taoiseach to open new homeless and drugs centre as demand soars

The new Merchants Quay will be formally opened today, as staff confirm significant increase in demand.

A person begs in Dublin City centre.
A person begs in Dublin City centre.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE TAOISEACH WILL formally open a new centre aimed at providing services to homeless people and drugs users in Dublin today.

Merchants Quay Ireland’s new Riverbank Open Access Homeless and Drugs Centre on Merchants Quay, Dublin 8, has been operating since July and has noted a soar in demand for services.

Staff at the centre say the numbers accessing its meals service have risen significantly, with 5542 meals served in July to 7533 in October 2012. They note this is a an increase of approximately 51 per cent on the same time last year.

Meanwhile an almost 10 per cent increase in demand for needle exchange on the same time last year was recorded, with over 2000 recorded in October 2012. Similarly, a rise from 243 primary health care visits in October 2011 to 413 in October 2012 were seen at the new centre.

“We at Merchants Quay Ireland are counting the social cost of the recession everyday as numbers coming to our new centre soar. On Sundays alone we are seeing over 250 people come through our door at lunchtime. For many the meals we provide are the only decent thing they will eat that day and their only social contact,” Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland, stated.

“As the winter bites we expect to see more and more people come through our doors to get in off the streets for a few hours, to warm up, have a cup of tea and a bite to eat,” he said.

Geoghegan said the homeless crisis was ‘mirroring’ the increase in demand for drug services at the new centre.

The new facility, housed in the former Riverbank theatre, has a larger reception and canteen area, a brand new catering kitchen to provide nutritious meals, as well as a medical centre with doctors, dentist and nurses stations.

Free counselling, drugs services, and advice to those in need of accommodation are also offered at the new centre, which is open seven days a week.

Previously, Merchants Quay Ireland operated from a smaller site on Cook Street, Dublin 8.

Column: ‘Your hope goes, and that’s that’ – a homeless drug user’s story
Read: Increased demand for Merchant’s Quay Ireland homeless services

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