herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Injection centres may be delayed until late next year

Tony Duffin of Ana Liffey
Tony Duffin of Ana Liffey

Supervised drug injection centres may not open in the city until the end of 2017 - despite a commitment by Government to push through new laws before Christmas.

The Herald has learned that although TDs have promised to enact new laws to establish injection centres for drug addicts during the new Dail term, it could be up to 10 months before the first centre is open.

The development comes after drugs minister Catherine Byrne last night confirmed she expects the first facility to open in Dublin next year.

Senior sources have revealed that even if politicians pass new laws before Christmas - it could still be several more months before a centre is open.

"If TDs pass the laws to open centres there will be a whole process of who will operate the centres, how they will be run and where they will be located," a source explained.

"The biggest debate is expected to be around where the centres will open.

"By the time that is all sorted it could be near the end of 2017 when the first centre opens."

A bill to establish the centres for chronic drug users is expected to be debated in the Dail chamber in November.

It is listed as a government priority in the legislative programme announced earlier this week by government chief whip Regina Doherty.

However, last night Ms Byrne was unable to outline when in 2017 the centres would open.

Facility

"Once this legislation is enacted it will be the responsibility of the HSE to oversee the establishment of a facility," said Ms Byrne.

"I am keenly aware, from my own work at community level, that the drug problem is a complex and challenging issue that has damaging consequences for drug users and their families, as well as the wider community."

Activists involved in helping drug addicts last night called for the centres to open immediately.

Tony Duffin, of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, said the centres would tackle the issue of public injecting.

"We are really happy and welcome that legalisation is being worked on, but it needs to be enacted as soon as possible," Mr Duffin told the Herald.

"Injection facilities save lives and ultimately save the taxpayer money.

"The sooner we get the centres open, the sooner we can improve the drug situation in the city."

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