High Court refuses heroin injection facility on Quays

In a significant victory for the local community of the south Dublin quays, the High Court this morning upheld an appeal against a heroin injection facility at Merchants Quay.

The proposal included a needle exchange and the provision of what locals describe as a “shooting gallery” for heroin users in a basement at the facility which is run by Merchants Quay Ireland. That group which was funded to the tune of over €12 million in 2019, mostly by the taxpayer, and which then employed 200 people, claims to be addressing the drug problem in the city.

As anyone familiar with that part of Dublin will know, the centre attracts not only heroin and other drug users but drug dealers. This represents not only an eyesore but is believed to be the reason for a significant amount of street crime in the vicinity. To the extent that people  live in fear of their safety and the safety of their homes.

Not surprisingly then, the proposal with minimal consultation with the people who actually live in the area was strongly opposed.  Their initial case was rejected by An Bord Pleanala who this morning was criticised by Justice Garrett Simons for the manner in which it had handled the matter. ABP had claimed that the injection centre would have no impact on the local community. The judge stated that neither the inspector nor ABP had properly engaged with the submission made by St. Audeon’s school board.

 

Aodhán Ó Riordáin, Labour Party TD, supporting the injection centre

Irish Council of Civil Liberties supporting the injection centre

Michael Pidgeon, Green Party Cllr for Dublin’s South West Inner City, supporting the injection centre

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That arrogant dismissal had been despite the Bord’s inspector having reported that there was a “very high level of dissatisfaction with the existing operation of MQI (Merchant’s Quay Ireland) expressed by so many of the immediate community in the area.” Yet, she concluded the paragraph with the pious hope that  the project “might improve the area in terms of public injecting and drug-related litter.”

The dubiousness of the whole enterprise is further summed by Justice Simons’ remark that “The persons involved in the supply of the drugs will, presumably, be guilty of an offence.” Which begs the question as to why the state or a state funded body be involved in facilitating such activity. The Justice then points to the most salient aspect which is that “the facility is to be located immediately adjacent to a primary school.”

The appeal was brought by the management of St. Audeon’s primary school which is located less than 200 metres from the site. The school claimed that the injection centre would worsen the already negative impact which Merchant’s Quay has on the local community. Especially given that heroin users would be arriving at the same time as the school opens. Justice Simons referred to their pointing out that the facility would “cause a de facto “drugs marketplace” to be created in the area.”

The School had also employed the services of a psychologist who referred to the danger that such a facility would serve to “normalise illegal practises” and also create a surely malign model for the possible future behaviour of the children subjected to such degradation. One wonders how many members of An Bord Pleanala or left politicians or human rights advocates would wish to see their children subject to this sort of squalor on their way to school. It is to the credit of Justice Simons that he could see the issue from the other perspective.

The appeal by St. Audeon’s contrasted the initial approval of the “facility” with existing prohibitions on the advertising of alcohol close to schools, and indeed the support within the political elite and health establishment for “no fry” zones around schools which seeks to ban fast food outlets within a certain distance of schools. Dublin City Council is one such local authority.

When Dublin City Council rejected the proposal for the centre in July 2019, then Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien told Hot Press magazine that he supported the shooting up clinic. It was his considered view that “having a medically supervised injection centre doesn’t mean that their locality is suddenly going to become an epicentre for drug use.”

Well, the local community know to their cost that this is not the case. Thankfully, it was a sensible and socially responsible judge who made the decision rather than ideologically motivated Pollyannas who either do not care what local communities have to put up with in pursuit of their naïve projects, or see it as part of speeding up the social collapse from which they hope to benefit from politically.

 

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