October 13, 2016

Ireland's first medically supervised injecting centre to open next year

Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Sydney

The Government is following through on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin's proposals.

The Department of Health has confirmed that Ireland’s first medically supervised injecting centre will be piloted in Dublin city centre next year. There will also be more detox beds and better access to addiction treatment for under-18s.

It’s part of a €3 million package of Budget 2017 measures to support drugs and social inclusion measures.

“The extra funding announced will enable the HSE to continue providing interventions aimed at improving the health outcomes of the most vulnerable in our society, including Traveller and Roma communities, those affected by addiction issues, those experiencing homelessness and asylum seekers and refugees,” the Department says. 

Talking about the capital’s chronic heroin problem, which was highlighted this year when Hot Press went on urban safari with the Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, Tony Duffin, the Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, says: “The establishment of a supervised injecting facility is high on my agenda. This facility is badly needed to address the problem with street injecting in Ireland, which particularly affects Dublin city centre.

“The difficulties experienced by under 18s in getting access to drug and alcohol treatment and the limited options available for detoxing from drugs were among a number of issues raised with me during the public consultation on the National Drugs Strategy”, she continues. “It is my intention to use the additional funding to address gaps in service provision for under 18s and in providing more detox places in community and residential settings next year. 

“I expect to receive a report from the Steering Committee set up to advise me on the new drugs strategy early in the New Year. Minister Harris and I intend to develop and bring to Government a proposal for multi-annual investment in drugs as part of the memorandum for Government on the new strategy.”

It was Minister Byrne’s predecessor, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who convinced Enda Kenny of the urgent need for the type of facility that has saved countless lives in countries like Canada and Australia. The aforementioned Tony Duffin was one of the experts who helped Ó Ríordáin draw up his proposals, which will now hopefully lead to a network of facilities around the country. 

“It’s heartening to finally see harm reduction at the core of government policy”, says Hot Press Deputy Editor, Stuart Clark. “Aodhán Ó Ríordáin deserves enormous credit for kickstarting the process and bringing the likes of Leo Varadkar and the Taoiseach on board. Next stop; decriminalisation.” 

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