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Temple Bar pubs and U2 hotel among 99 objections to State's first supervised injecting centre

The centre would cater for 60 heroin and cocaine addicts every day.

The Temple Bar pub was one of the 99 objectors.
The Temple Bar pub was one of the 99 objectors.
Image: Shutterstock/Giannis Papanikos

THE FOUR-STAR Dublin hotel co-owned by U2’s Bono and The Edge is one of dozens of Dublin businesses to lodge an objection against a planned injecting centre for chronic heroin and cocaine addicts.

Last month, Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) lodged its plans with Dublin City Council for the State’s first medically supervised injection centre that is to cater for around 60 addicts each day.

The application involves the redevelopment of MQI’s Riverbank building at 13/14 Merchant’s Quay in D8 that includes the provision of seven planned injecting rooms in the basement of the building.

In total, 99 objections have been lodged against the plan with a host of businesses joining with Bono’s and The Edge’s Clarence Hotel voicing their opposition against the contentious plan.

They include one of the best known – and one of the most profitable – pubs in the country, The Temple Bar pub in Temple bar, The Porterhouse pub, The Temple Bar company, the Dublin Business Alliance, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and The Morgan, Trinity City and the Westin hotels which are part of the MHL Hotel Collection owned by US billionaire, John Malone.

An inner city primary school, St Audoen’s NS located 300 metres from the Riverbank building along with a large number of parents of children attending the school have also lodged strenuous objections against the plan.

MCI has lodged the plans after winning a tender from the HSE to operate the facility and the city council has received a submission from a local HSE office on Merchants Quay outlining its own concerns over the plan.

In the objection lodged by The Clarence, its General Manager, Michael O’Connor has told the City Council: “Our company employs 55 people and has been trading in the area for the past 25 years.

O’Connor says: “The location of this facility is located less than 500 metres from our premises and we believe that if granted planning, this facility will have significant negative impacts on the surrounding area up to and including Temple Bar- an area with an annual footfall of 22 million.”

He states that for such a facility to work, Garda must turn a blind eye to drug possession within a certain radius of the centre.

O’Connor said: “This will create significant anti-social behaviour within the immediate vicinity. Drug users must pursue whatever illegal means necessary to access money to feed their habit. This will lead to an increase of crime in the area.

He adds: “Our businesses have already been negatively impacted by the levels of anti-social behaviour which is visible daily along the quayside. This can be directly attributed to the large number of drug addicts availing of the current services at Merchants Quay and other similar services located within the city centre.”

O’Connor states that “if this is a medical facility, then it should be located on a medical campus, not in a city centre building beside the country’s largest tourism centre.”

In an objection from the Health Business Services, the HSE based at 23/24 Merchants Quay, Yvonne Kelly has outlined a number of concerns.

Kelly claims that the proposal “raises safety concerns for residents and workers and creates a danger to children from used needles and drug paraphernalia”.

She adds: “In such an historic part of Dublin frequented by tourists, the risk re assault, mugging and witnessing anti-social behaviour could have a detrimental impact on the economy.”

The Operation Plan for the injecting centre states: “Clients have to be possession of their own drugs, obtained elsewhere, before entering the facility and will not be permitted to obtain or share drugs with other clients while in the vicinity. Clients must inject themselves – staff will not be allowed to inject clients.”

The ‘Operations Plan’ states evidence does not support concerns that injecting facilities encourage drug use, delay treatment entry or aggravate problems with local drug markets.

The plan states: “Instead, they facilitate safer drug use, increase access to health and social services and reduce public drug use and associated nuisance.”

It adds that these services do not result in higher rates of drug related crime.

A decision is due on the application next month.

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Gordon Deegan

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