herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Coffees, comfy chairs and a chill-out room for users of injection centre

Cllr Mannix Flynn objects
Cllr Mannix Flynn objects

A proposed drug injection centre in the heart of Dublin will serve coffee and have a "chill-out" area for users after they shoot up.

The details have been released by the Health Service Executive (HSE), which hopes to open the controversial centre as soon as possible.

The HSE is seeking tenders for the medically-supervised facility and hopes to award the contract by November.

The Government has given the HSE €750,000 to set up the centre which is expected to cost €1.5m a year to run. Its location has yet to be decided.

It is estimated there are 400 drug users injecting in laneways around the city centre.

According to the HSE, there were 25 deaths among people injecting in public places in the two years to 2014.

The planned centre has divided opinion.

Among those against it is Independent city council member Mannix Flynn who said it "will be catastrophic for the city".

According to the HSE, the centre will have an intake area for 10 to 15 people to prevent "on-street congregation" of people waiting to use the facility.

"House rules" will include no dealing and no sharing of needles while resuscitation equipment will provide emergency care in cases of overdoses and adverse reactions.

Security

The centre will also have a "chill-out" area where people can relax and be monitored after they inject themselves.

The HSE tender states that the area should be equipped with a coffee and tea machine and comfortable chairs.

There will also be a minimum of three clinical rooms for medical and crisis interventions, counselling and referrals to social services and housing.

Nurses and security staff will be on duty at all times while a doctor will be present at least five days a week.

The centre will be open at various times between 6am and 10pm each day to "meet the needs of most injectors".

The HSE states that a key element to its success will be a demonstration of consultation and ongoing engagement with local stakeholders.

However, Cllr Flynn said: "This is only prolonging the misery of those who want treatment and detox. They don't want another place to shoot up.

"A centre like this should require planning permission. There has been no proper debate around it. It is the wrong approach. There is no substitute for proper treatment centres."

Cllr Flynn said the centre will lead to more anti-social behaviour on the streets.

Tony Duffin, of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, has long been campaigning for the centre.

He recently said it will reduce overdose deaths and the spread of diseases, and connect drug users with treatment services.

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